NYT: Do we need a new Internet?

19Feb09

From the New York Times: … there is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over.

What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a “gated community” where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there.

“In many respects we are probably worse off than we were 20 years ago,” …“because all of the money has been devoted to patching the current problem rather than investing in the redesign of our infrastructure.”

The idea is to build a new Internet with improved security and the capabilities to support a new generation of not-yet-invented Internet applications, as well as to do some things the current Internet does poorly — such as supporting mobile users.(…)
A more secure network is one that would almost certainly offer less anonymity and privacy. That is likely to be the great tradeoff for the designers of the next Internet. One idea, for example, would be to require the equivalent of drivers’ licenses to permit someone to connect to a public computer network. But that runs against the deeply held libertarian ethos of the Internet.

Proving identity is likely to remain remarkably difficult in a world where it is trivial to take over someone’s computer from half a world away and operate it as your own. As long as that remains true, building a completely trustable system will remain virtually impossible.

[ Read full article ]



3 Responses to “NYT: Do we need a new Internet?”

  1. thanks

    very good

    🙂

  2. Sir, I entirely disagree with this article.

    Internet privacy and security are and should be an individual matter. People who have gotten the worms and viruses of the past decade were not using security best practices. Concerned individuals can do well at maintaining their security – please see my recent blog on this topic. In plain language, I exhaustively detailed the methods that individuals can take to effectively secure their computers.

    We have nearly all of our privacy already in the last 2 decades. The threats to privacy are much greater, much more pernicious and much harder to defend than the threats to security. Everyone knows your habits well online and this needs to be reversed. Privacy must be restored to prior levels, not further reduced in the name of security.

    Furthermore, if privacy is to exist at all in our lives, we must have the ability to be anonymous. Anonymity helps provide the *effective* ability explore ideas and challenge our own conscious and the conscious of those around us.

  3. It depends what you mean by “Internet”. If we are talking about the infrastructure, I’d agree with you that we don’t need a new one. The evolutionary path of the existing internet seems to be adequate.

    Things, though, get a bit nebulous near the top of the infrastructure, at what old timers might call the application or presentation layers. Communicating with each other is not intuitive. We just use the internet to replicate a technology that is centuries old (writing to each other).

    I believe that the social network applications we see on the ‘net these days will help us formulate a “new internet” in terms of how we interact and communicate with each other.


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