Creating Tomorrow's Internet.
Welcome to the Internet Mark 2 Newsletter for October 2004.
The Internet Mark 2 Project rose out of concerns that Internet protocols and governance have not evolved sufficiently to deal with the range of problems which have appeared as the Internet gets older and bigger.
IN THIS ISSUE:
=> Feedback on the Internet Analysis Report 2004
=> Governance developments (including Geneva WGIG meeting, US senate hearings)
=> Protocol developments (including MARID, Lionshare and Planet-Lab updates)
=> Where to from here
FEEDBACK ON THE INTERNET ANALYSIS REPORT - 2004
Our first activity has been a sponsored study of the current state of the Internet, the Internet Analysis Report 2004 - Protocols and Governance. We believe this report is a "must read" for all stakeholders in the future of the Internet.
Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback on the report. We always knew that it would be controversial in some quarters, but we also though it was important that the facts were presented in plain language.
Our favourite quotes include:
"a good and informative paper"
"very clear and insightful"
"lays out its case in simple, understandable terms"
"finally someone has articulated a concise explanation of what it all means,"
"what I found valuable about it was the breadth of the approach, introducing readers to a wide range of barriers that the Internet faces in increasing the breadth and depth of its current coverage"
"I agree wholeheartedly that a more stable Internet is desirable and that certain ancient protocols (e.g. SMTP) do not serve their purpose well enough any more."
You can find out more about the report here.
Although the Executive Summary can be downloaded free of charge from www.internetmark2.org, we do suggest that you purchase a full copy. In response to requests, we have now instituted an academic price copy of the full report. Bound copies are also available. These can be purchases via either credit card or faxed purchase order.
Further details from email@example.com.
The WSIS forum in Geneva on setting up a Working Group on Internet Governance was held from September 20-21, 2004 and was, to all intents and purposes, successful. Although much of the deliberations was about process, in his summary, the Chairman noted:
=> Deliberations were more constructive than anticipated.
=> There was a general convergence of views on the need to treat Internet governance from a broad perspective, taking into account what has been done elsewhere and building on what already exists.
=> Topics that were particularly highlighted include the management of Internet resources, network security, cyber-crime, spam, and multilingualism.
The Chairman (Mr. Nitin Desai, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser to WSIS) will report back to the Secretary-General, with a central message that the Working Group on Internet Governance process will need to be open, transparent and inclusive."
US SENATE HEARINGS
Meanwhile the US Government Senate hearings on September 30 2004 elicited the following statements.
Ambassador Gross outlined the six guiding principles with respect to Internet development being suggested by the United States.
These are to:
=> Promote an enabling environment through effective and efficient competition:
=> Recognize the roles of all stakeholders:
=> Support continued private sector leadership:
=> Avoid overly prescriptive or burdensome regulation:
=> Ensure the stability and security of networks:
=> Embrace the global, collaborative and cooperative nature of the network:
Perhaps more revealing was the testimony of Mr John Kneur, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. Some of his more interesting comments were:
"First, it has been suggested that the responsibility for DNS technical management may shift to a UN agency as a result of WSIS. Let me take this opportunity to clarify that neither the WSIS nor the subsidiary discussions regarding Internet governance are chartered to take action or to yield an international treaty with binding obligations. Rather, the WSIS is a forum for discussions among interested parties that may yield proposals in the area of Internet governance."
"Further, the Department does not believe that any existing UN body, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or the UN ICT Task Force, is qualified to assume the responsibilities currently held by ICANN for the technical coordination and management of the Internet domain name system."
"Given that the Internet is borderless and global in nature, the Department recognizes that some Internet-related public policy issues may call for some form of international cooperation to be effective (e.g., the need for cooperation amongst enforcement authorities to combat spam). Broad international Internet-related public policy issues, which may fall under the rubric of Internet governance, are not within the mandate or the competencies of ICANN. With this in mind, the Department will continue to work closely with the international community and private sector and civil society stakeholders to find appropriate solutions as situations warrant."
TELL A FRIEND ABOUT THIS FREE NEWSLETTER!
The free Internet Mark2 Newsletter will bring monthly updates on issues with Internet Governance and Protocols.
To subscribe is as simple as sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of the Internet Analysis Report - 2004 is concerned with issues with the ageing core Internet protocols, and the difficulties that current Internet governance structures have in dealing with the larger issues involving in their replacement.
UPDATE ON MARID
One of the report case studies deals with the Internet Engineering Task Force's MARID working group, which was tasked with coming up with a sender authentication scheme for email, which can help substantially in reducing email fraud and many types of SPAM.
To quote from the Internet Analysis Report -.
"By early 2004, when it was obvious that major players such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Sendmail and AOL were going to implement new standards with or without IETF involvement, IETF convened its MARID Working Group to examine the problem. As a result of participation from two of the major proponents, Microsoft with its Caller-ID proposal and Meng Wong's SPF proposal, a merged proposal emerged called Sender-ID.
However, Microsoft wished to retain certain rights to development work under licence, while making it available to others. Thus, in addition to deciding on technical issues, the work group was faced with some complex licensing situations.
As this article was being written the complexities of this development were being played out within the technical working group. But whatever the outcome is, the issue is that IETF as a volunteer technical standards organization, has neither the expertise nor in reality the scope to arbitrate on licensing and intellectual property matters (or to make policy decisions in isolation on what sort of licences should or should not be granted). This lack of expertise and lack of structure to deal with issues such as this is a major structural flaw."
Now for an update.
Essentially, Microsoft issued wide-ranging defensive patent applications covering many forms of email sender authentication and spam filtering, and imposed license conditions on use which were unacceptable to major players such as the Apache Foundation, whose software is used for perhaps the majority of Internet servers around the world. Quite soon, the most common phrase in the MARID working group as they struggled to deal with this became "IANAL", short for "I am not a lawyer".
Amidst a great deal of disappointment from participants, IETF has decided to close the MARID group because it could make no further progress. While the SPF group and Microsoft will no doubt continue to develop partial spam solutions without IETF involvement, an opportunity was lost here, not because of technical issues, but because of legal concerns.
Engineers are not lawyers - to have to make legal decisions in an engineering working group is hardly appropriate. That's not a criticism of the participants and the way they handled the issue. It's a criticism of an inadequate structure.
This is so often the case with the Internet governance issues we are critical of in the Internet Analysis Report - 2004. It's not the efforts of the current players we are critical of, but the structures that lack avenues for high level public policy input, and for escalating public policy issues to areas where appropriate decisions can be made.
There's another lesson to learn from this, however. US patent laws on software are being roundly criticised within the industry as stifling innovation. It's been claimed that, under current laws, the Internet could never have been developed, and may never be able to be improved. This is a non-technical issue which impacts on technical development of the Internet; but, as it is a non-technical issue, it appears to out of scope for current governance structures. That's a dilemma that needs to be addressed.
We reiterate that spam is essentially a solvable problem, but only if a larger scale approach is taken of replacing the core email protocol, SMTP. We are encouraged by a growing body of opinion that this is so, but discouraged by the lack of appropriate structure to tackle this issue.
INTEL AND PLANET LAB
On a more positive note, we were interested to see the comments of Intel Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Pat Gelsinger, who states that the current Internet protocols have outlived their usefulness. Gelsinger is harnessing support for the www.planet-lab.org initiative, which is looking at an overlay approach to provision of new services.
Another positive development has come in the form of Lionshare software.
The LionShare project began as an experimental software development project at Penn State University to assist faculty with digital file management. The project has now grown to be a collaborative global effort.
LionShare builds on average peer-to-peer technology to include all the personal file-sharing capabilities of Kazaa and Gnutella, plus adds the novel features of authentication, access control, copyright protection, and permanent "continually on" storage space. LionShare is unique in providing access to both centralized databases of academic institutions and groups, and users' personal files with only one search query More details can be found at http://lionshare.its.psu.edu/main/
Tell a friend
We continue to seek further feedback and exposure to the issues raised in the report. If you are aware of someone who you think should be aware of these issues, we suggest you send them this newsletter, and suggest they subscribe (it's as simple as sending an email to email@example.com.
Alternatively, direct them to www.internetmark2.org, where they can hunt around for themselves.
WHERE TO FROM HERE
Jay Fenello sent an interesting message where he compares current Internet developments with the beginnings of the US constitution.
After drawing a number of historical parallels between US constitutional development and Internet governance development, he concludes
"First, this is going to take a long time. It took our founding fathers over 11 years -- and at the rate we are going, it will likely take us the same (especially if we continue to use the same face-to-face meeting process that *they* used in the 1770's)
Second, this is an iterative process. We are going to make mistakes, many at first. Welcome diversity, and learn from it.
Third, realize that there are going to be power plays, legal challenges, governmental intervention, and all manner of other machinations. Expect it, and call them as you see them.
Finally, be happy. These are exciting times, no matter how painful they seem right now!"
Please continue to send feedback, and expressions of interest and involvement. We do not imagine we are the only player or even a major player as this develops further; we see our role as working with others and being a catalyst for effective change.
Opinions on future direction for the Internet protocols differ widely at this stage, from small centralised systems to widely distributed peer to peer systems.
Internet pioneer Bob Frankston was one person who went to lengths to explain his opinions on this, as follows:
"In the meantime I've taken the attitude that it's far simpler to just pave over the Internet than to fix it. It's the same as it was when the Internet simply paved over the phone network using it only as a transport.
I very much agree that IP is broken because it is too smart.....The current Internet is a wonderful prototype that's simply way beyond its design point.
The first step is to separate naming from routing - the IP address tries to do both and mix in crypto-capabilities. Stay tuned.
The good news is that P2P (peer to peer) efforts are End-to-End despite, not because of, the Internet. Skype is a great example.
My current goal is to make it easy to create end-to-end applications that use the current Internet as an optional route and not a layer. After all, a dependency on an Internet layer would violate the end-to-end principle and thus a smarter Internet is a contradiction in terms."
That's one theory, but, as another correspondent put it
"Our rustynet is outdated: end to end is so silly. Relations are brain and brain. Brains interoperability is the real need."
From our point of view, let the debate continue. What's important is that we begin to think now about how we will go about the creation of a new Internet infrastructure.
We will continue to bring attention to this problem, and to the fact that current structures seem unable to come up with answers.
But within the range of people who are reading this newsletter, we know there are answers and approaches and the will to solve these. The only option we rule out at this stage is the "do nothing" one.
Send us your feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
This newsletter was sponsored by Ian Peter and Associates Pty Ltd. Ian Peter and Associates provide a range of strategy, policy, analysis and project management services. For further information contact email@example.com.