Creating Tomorrow's Internet.
INTERNET MARK 2 NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2005
A warm welcome to all our readers! In this issue:
=> WSIS WRAPUP
=> GOOGLEISATION and EMERGING ISSUES
=> NSF GETS IT (protocol developments)
ABOUT THE INTERNET MARK 2 PROJECT
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. We welcome your feedback and involvement in our work; some suggestions as to how you can get involved appear at www.internetmark2.org.
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WSIS - GOVERNMENTS TRY TO CONTROL THE INTERNET
2005 was the year of the World Summit on then Information Society, but of particular importance to the Internet was the debate about the role of nations and the United Nations in Internet governance.
A great deal happened in this respect, and a great deal didn't. In terms of actual control functions, things probably got worse, as, is the light of a challenge from the UN to play a larger role, Internet governance became politicized within the USA and the USA decided to tighten its grip. If this was a mere bureaucratic move, it could be dismissed - but this was very political, involving the White House - important enough for Condoleeza Rice to write to the European Union.
On one level, it makes very little difference at all. On another level, however, the Internet at least in terms of ICANN, has become very much declared an item of national interest by USA.
On a practical level, the counter-measure was establishment of a UN sponsored Internet Governance Forum, which will meet for the first time in 2006. This new body will prove interesting in how it approaches various key issues.
We support this proposal - we believe there are many matters that this forum should address that are not covered by any other forum or governance body -as well as some unfinished business as regards legacy governance structures.
To see what we told them, see the link from the Home Page at www.internetmark2.org.
But in many ways, the debates at WSIS missed the big issues that we expect will dominate our thinking in 2006.
VOIP VS TRADITIONAL TELCO MODELS
For instance, the battle between VOIP (voice over IP) and traditional telephony systems, which will begin to dominate discussions in national regulatory regimes of countries with high broadband penetration, hardly got a mention. Yet there is hardly an issue where the importance of understanding the potential of the Internet is more important. Traditional telco business models are very threatened by Internet growth, and telco lobbying power will undoubtedly lead to some draconian attempts to stop Internet growth by regulatory restrictions based on content type.
Model legislation therefore becomes important in allowing the emergence of a regime in which voice connections are no different to any other Internet connections.
We envisage a future regime where bandwidth is about as basic as water or electricity supply, distance does not matter, time doesn't matter, volume doesn't really matter - more a flat annual cost Internet. That's the one that can help this planet and global communications most.
We want to see the Internet as a place you visit, not some highly regulated network facility broken up into different regulatory regimes according to the types of traffic being transmitted.
2005 was also the year in which the power of Google became apparent. Moving from a simple base as a very good Internet search engine, Google, using excessive market capitalisation that had some people talking of a second 'dotcom" era, proceeded to
" Make available Google Maps, raising ire among some countries at the easy availability of satellite imagery of military facilities
" Became evidence in a criminal court case in USA, where Google searches on the words "neck" and "snap" became part of criminal evidence, raising substantial privacy issues
" Released Google desktop, with cookies allowing customization of news alerts and further raising privacy concerns
" Released Google Print, a plan to make available on line literary works, raising copyright concerns
" Began rolling out city wide free wireless networks in towns such as Mountain View, California, posing enormous challenges for those who would regulate telephony and broadcast facilities and support the economic viability of legacy broadcast and telephony models.
And much more. This was the year that Google posed new challenges for regulators. We have yet to see responses, particularly at an international level.
OTHER ISSUES WE BELIEVE IGF SHOULD LOOK AT
These are issues we would like to see discussed in an Internet Governance Forum - and they have precious little to do with ICANN, which is a good thing. We would also add to the agenda
Widespread spectrum availability to support global communications (even at the expense of legacy systems such as free to air TV)
Digital rights management
US Broadcast Flag Legislation
Where is the model legislation here? Where is the best practice approaches? We call on the Internet community to take this opportunity to engage with governments and help forge satisfactory regulatory regimes for the growth of the Internet.
Where to from here?
Since we first raised the issues of Internet ossification in detail in 2004, there have been a number of developments supporting the position we took. In particular, the US National Science Foundation , which took a leading role in development of Internet Mark 1, has taken a role in supporting projects that deal with large scale change rather than ossification by incremental change. We were excited enough to link their workshop document to our home page.
More on this initiative can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/cise/geni/.
Early in the new year, when we find time for a major site revamp, we will bring you a range of links to exciting initiatives we are aware of in Ethernet usage, port 80 and above standardisation to create new networking possibilities, and some other pretty exciting developments at the edge of Internet development. Apologies for not having the time to write it all up now, but we will get to it early in 2006!
Thank you everyone for your support and interest. We look forward to some major developments and changes in 2006 and to your further involvement.
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