Creating Tomorrow's Internet.
There are many problems facing the Internet at the current time. Those closest
to each problem are making substantial efforts in isolation from other major
issues to address their particular problems, often however seeking short term
fixes rather than longer term solutions. A co-ordinated approach across all
areas seems necessary for resolution.
IETF and ICANN have been unable to deal with the range of issues and concerns adequately. This is acknowledged as an issue by many people who are aware of the problems.
The question then becomes how to proceed to reform.
The WSIS governance debate will be ongoing until at least mid 2005, and at that point of time is only likely to consider what governance structures should be in the future. This study acknowledges that an appropriate forum exists to examine governance issues, and suggests that some of the information in the Internet Analysis Report - 2004 might assist in discussions of how to appropriately reform governance. It is not simply a matter of removing ICANN from the somewhat benign influence of the US Dept of Commerce; it is necessary to consider the range of issues involved in creating tomorrow's Internet as an effective and equitable tool for human development. That requires some refocussing of discussion to address some wider issues and needs.
What is not being discussed as comprehensively is how to reform protocols.
The Internet Analysis Report - 2004 concludes that
protocol reform is necessary.
Project management structures are both the normal and the most effective way to handle major change projects of this nature. A separate short term structure should be established for this purpose. It would consist of:
The exact makeup of both the Project team and the Steering Committee needs
further investigation with major stakeholders. A preliminary range of potential
activities and involvement possibilities are outlined in the full study.
The entire process is unlikely to be completed in less than three years. There are compelling reasons to suggest it must be completed within seven. At the end of a successful implementation, the project would hand over responsibility to an appropriate Internet governance structure which will most likely have emerged from WSIS and beyond.
It may be suggested that current Internet organisations should deal with this change. This study believes that would be ineffective, as:
For these reasons the existing governance and standards bodies, although they should be encouraged to be active participants, should not be the only voices at the table for this future development initiative.
It appears necessary at this preliminary stage to look at some sort of
gateway structure through which people pass to adopt "Internet Mark 2". For a
substantial period of time, Internet Mark 2 will need to co-exist and co-operate
with the legacy Internet. However eventually people will pass through the gate
to the other side.
And, although differing opinions exist, it also appears to be necessary to nominate a point in time at which the gates shut, and interoperability with the old system disappears.
Other options to be examined would include a layered super-structure on top of existing protocols, or an overall peer to peer architecture that effectively bypasses problematic protocols gradually.
The risks associated with inaction on these issues substantially exceed those
involved in moving forward. The risks associated with delay are also
Significant problems with base protocols are already evident. Given that the necessary changes cannot be implemented overnight, it is appropriate that a major effort to address these problems begin now.
The Internet Analysis Report - 2004 concludes that there are substantial inter-dependencies between protocol reform and governance. The dilemma facing the Internet community is that protocol reform has dependencies on governance reform, but cannot await completion of reform processes.
Protocol reform and governance reform must therefore be addressed in parallel, with some clear understandings among all parties concerned of the need to co-operate fully in ensuring that the next generation protocols and the next generation governance eventually come together in an appropriate manner.
The Internet Analysis Report - 2004 recommends some initial actions in addressing protocol issues. A preliminary range of funding, sponsorship and involvement possibilities are suggested here.