Re: Internet 2020 Goals

Miles Fidelman <> Tue, 27 May 2014 02:15 UTC

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Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 22:15:23 -0400
From: Miles Fidelman <>
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Subject: Re: Internet 2020 Goals
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At one time, NSF and the National Academy of Sciences used to publish 
"research agendas" for networking - when did this stop?

Carlos M. Martinez wrote:
> I agree with almost everything you wrote, and I think we definitely need
> something akin to a corporate 'vision' but for the Internet.
> What is our utopia? What do we want the Internet to look like and how do
> we want it to work in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ?
> I also agree that some of these goals might not be IETF-related, but I
> think we (as the IETF we) can set a vision of what we would like the
> Internet to be.
> cheers!
> ~Carlos
> On 5/15/14, 1:57 PM, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>> While we frequently see complaints about where the Internet is headed
>> on this list and sometimes see proposals to change that direction we
>> seem to rarely consider what that direction should be.
>> The only time we have done that recently at a high level has been in
>> response to the Snowden disclosures. And we will probably revisit that
>> in the near future when Greenwald drops the final installment of the
>> documents which is who is being targeted.
>> Privacy is one important goal that we want to achieve. But it isn't
>> the only goal that I think is important. And I don't think we will
>> make much progress even on Privacy unless there is some sort of
>> deadline.
>> Hence the need for Internet 2020. We have six years to go before 2020
>> which is sufficient time to do useful development and deployment. It
>> might even be possible to do research, development and deployment in
>> that time frame.
>> Right now we have a lot of governments that are trying to get involved
>> in the governance of the Internet. Often without any understanding of
>> what it is or why it is built the way it is. A risk we face is that if
>> we do not define what our goals are, others will do that for us.
>> Another risk we face, one that I think is unfortunately realized
>> rather often here is that if we don't state our goals, we can't make
>> common cause with others who have the same set of goals. Most IETF
>> participants would probably agree with most of what emerged as
>> consensus at Netmundial. But most IETF-ers still regard the initiative
>> as a threat rather than an opportunity.
>> If we set concrete goals and realistic deadlines then there is a
>> probability that at least some policy makers and providers of research
>> funds will factor those goals and deadlines into their own decision
>> making processes. This is how the policymakers themselves work. The EU
>> did this when they set 1992 as the date for 'completion' of the single
>> market. Now as everyone who is familiar with the issue knows, 1992 was
>> neither the start or the end of that process. But setting that date
>> did act as a forcing function that drove the process from 20% to 90%
>> complete.
>> So what are the goals that we might reasonably hope to achieve by 2020?
>> By goals I mean providing capabilities that meet user requirements,
>> not the deployment of specific technologies. So I don't see deployment
>> of IPv6 as the type of high level goal we should start with.
>> Deployment IPv6 is not an end in itself, deployment of IPv6 is merely
>> a means to the end goal of ensuring that everyone can get Internet
>> service. And with a population of 7 billion we obviously need more
>> than 4 billion IP addresses.
>> So IPv6 is really just one technology that is serving the high level
>> goal of Access: The Internet is for everyone. But achieving the access
>> goal means much more than deployment of IPv6.
>> Returning to the policy maker interface. One of the problems with IPv6
>> deployment today is that the deadlines have always been fungible. Even
>> now with the IPv4 address space exhausted, IPv6 is far from
>> ubiquitous.
>> The three high level goals I see are:
>> 1) Security: All Internet protocols should provide confidentiality and
>> integrity by default.
>> 2) Access: The Internet is for everyone and everyone should be able to
>> use it regardless of their geographic location or political
>> interference.
>> 3) Autonomy: [Here I need a concise definition]
>> The third goal is the hardest to define but probably the most
>> important. One of the main reasons that the Web is designed the way it
>> is and why it became so popular was that it gave individual users
>> control.
>> At the time the Web was invented, the IT infrastructure at CERN was
>> centered on a large mainframe system, CERN-VM. The mainframe
>> administrators were the aristocracy and the users were serfs. A lot of
>> time and effort went into reminding the users of this. Anyone who got
>> an account on CERN-VM would have all their mail sent to that machine
>> by default, that was not a choice. And since it was an ESIDIC machine
>> it meant that your mail would never work again.
>> The Web broke up the monopoly of access to the information hoarded on
>> CERN-VM. It wasn't necessary to have an account on the mainframe to
>> read the phone book or to find out the Delphi meeting schedules or any
>> of the other inconveniences that the commissars of CERN-VM had
>> inflicted.
>> The Web was designed to break up that information monopoly which is
>> why it then went on to break up the planned information monopoly of
>> 'Interactive-TV', the future of networking as imagined by Time Warner.
>> The only interaction in Interactive-TV was that you could buy stuff
>> from overpriced online shopping malls. Users were just passive
>> consumers. The designers never thought about about the possibility
>> that users might actually interact by creating content themselves.
>> But now as a result of institutional design and network effects we
>> face forces that threaten to eliminate user autonomy returning us to
>> the pre-Web model.
>> My problem with the institutional arrangements in ICANN is that I have
>> no recourse whatsoever. If ICANN decides to jack up the price of
>> domain names to $100 each, I have to pay up or lose my domains. And
>> that is important because when I am using, Google
>> effectively owns my Internet email presence. If they decide to change
>> terms of service or impose ridiculous fees then exercising my exit
>> right of switching email providers comes with an enormous switching
>> cost.
>> So the starting point for Internet autonomy is to have our own domain
>> names. Which is why I own But while this gives me
>> autonomy with respect to google, I do not have autonomy with respect
>> to VeriSign or ICANN.
>> DNS raises important autonomy issues which is why I have been working
>> on it for the past five years. But it isn't the only area where
>> autonomy is an issue.
>> Autonomy is an important framing on the net neutrality debate. I find
>> the usual framing highly suspect because there are circumstances where
>> I would be happy to have free Internet access that doesn't work with
>> Vonage or Netflix unless those companies pay the provider. My real
>> concern is whether that is a choice or a mechanism to extract unfair
>> rents where I pay the ISP for the Internet service and then pay again.
>> Autonomy is also the reason that I am very concerned by the recent
>> trend where web properties require the use of one particular social
>> network to comment on their blogs. The commercial reason they are
>> doing it is of course that they want the exposure that comes from
>> linking the comments to that social network and advertising the
>> comments to their friends. But they are taking away my autonomy and
>> they don't even register that some people would legitimately see that
>> as unacceptable.
>> And lest people accuse me of being anti-corporate here. Time-Warner
>> made far more money from its Web properties than it would ever have
>> made from their Interactive-TV. And the Time-Warner management that
>> was clueless about Interactive TV also managed to burn half their
>> shareholder value by gifting it to the shareholders of AOL, a business
>> unit they eventually disposed of for a few percent of what they paid.
>> My thesis is that companies that back the goals Internet users want
>> will be the leaders of the Internet in 2020. So if I am right and
>> Security, Access and Autonomy are the goals they will get behind,
>> companies that want to become or remain leaders should back them.
>> So those are my goals. What goals should we be attempting to address?
>> What are realistic timescales?
>> Are we just going to be happy with a faster Internet with an
>> effectively unlimited address space or do we have bigger goals?

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra