Home / Blogs

The Internet Is Designed for Surveillance

The current implementation of the Internet is hierarchical in that we get IP addresses from providers and then use a DNS that is rooted. We go even further in requiring that we conform to conditions on our intent (AKA our use) of connectivity in order to get a temporary lease on something so fundamental as our identity in the guise of a DNS name. We go further by accepting the idea that we communicate within pipes owned by service providers who can dictate terms in order to extract a rent.

Once you accept such an architecture and such rules it seems disingenuous to act surprised when those whom we’ve put in charge take advantage of this control for whatever purpose—whether for advertising or for our safety (real or imagined). We may ask for restraint on the part of those who enforce the rules but every time there is an outrage (often called terrorist attack) we (perhaps not the same “we”) demand more surveillance.

The ideas behind the Internet—the use of raw packets that have no intrinsic meaning in transit—should enable us to communicate without having to agree to all of these conditions and without subjecting ourselves to prior restraint. Even if we didn’t fully appreciate the idea of raw packets we still have to wonder why we accept a rent-seeking approach for something so vital as our ability to communicate.

Where is the effort to honor the Internet paradigm and move away from the presumption of hierarchy to a distributed approach that doesn’t assume that we must declare our intent merely to exchange bits? At very least we should move beyond having rent-seekers in the path.

By Bob Frankston, IEEE Fellow – 

Bob Frankston is best known for writing VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet. While at Microsoft, he was instrumental in enabling home networking. Today, he is addressing the issues associated with coming to terms with a world being transformed by software.

 Visit Page

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

VINTON CERF
Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Comments

Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

Related

Topics

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

Brand Protection

Sponsored byAppdetex

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

Domain Management

Sponsored byMarkMonitor

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPXO