Internet Governance Forum-USA, 2012
  Workshop: Critical Internet Resources -
  The Evolution of Technical Foundations


 

 


Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Since the initiation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Critical Internet Resources (CIR) and the evolution of the Internet's technical foundations have been a central focus of ongoing Internet governance debates. Varied views can engender misunderstandings that influence the opinions of global stakeholders, and different views exist about how to advance CIRs. International governmental approaches are proposed by some, while others strongly support the present bottom-up, consensus-driven models. Three foundational technological changes - IPv6, secure Domain Name System (DNSsec) and secure routing - framed the discussion in this workshop. Deployment of these new technical and organizational approaches raises significant challenges to stakeholders, operations and governance arrangements. 

Details of the session:

The moderator for the session was Walda Roseman, chief operating officer of the Internet Society. Panelists included: 

  • Steve Crocker, chair of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
     
  • John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry of Internet Numbers
     
  • Richard Jimmerson, director for deployment and operationalization, Internet Society
     
  • Vernita Harris, deputy associate administrator in the Office of International Affairs of NTIA, US Department of Commerce

Thursday’s IGF-USA conference at Georgetown Law Center featured an assembled panel of government and corporate experts who addressed the controversial issues concerning the control of critical Internet resources.

Walda Roseman, chief operating officer of the Internet Society (ISOC), chaired the discussion on the implementation and security of CIRs.

CIRs include IP addresses, domain names, routing tables and telecommunications, or what Steve Crocker, CEO and co-founder of Shinkuro Inc., Internet Hall of Fame member and chair of the board of ICANN, called the base of Internet architecture upon which everything else is built.

Moving from Internet Protocol Version 4 to IPv6

One of the most pressing concerns regarding CIRs is the revision of Internet Protocol (commonly referred to as IP) from version 4 to version 6, now the most dominant protocol for Internet traffic.

IPv4 used 32-bit addresses, allowing for approximately 4.2 billion unique IP addresses, but the growth of the Internet has exceeded those limits. IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, allowing for about 3.4×1038  unique addresses. This number is equal to approximately 4.8×1028 addresses for each of the seven billion people alive in 2012.

Because headers on IPv4 packets and IPv6 packets are quite different, the two protocols are not interoperable and thus they are both being run in what is called a "double stack."

However, IPv6 is, in general, seen to be a conservative extension of IPv4. Most transport and application-layer protocols need little or no change to operate over IPv6. The exceptions to this are the application protocols that embed internet-layer addresses, such as FTP and NTPv3. In these, the new address format may cause conflicts with existing protocol syntax.

Internet service providers, the Internet Society and many large Internet-based enterprises worked to support a World IPv6 Launch on June 6 this year to help accelerate the adoption of IPv6.

John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, said upgrading to IPv6 is a necessary step for “any enterprise that wants to still be in business in five years,” because it enables them to continue to reach new customers and grow.

When asked about the costs or burdens of upgrading to IPv6 for small businesses, Curran explained that in most cases the burden would fall on the hosting company through which they run their website.

Chris Griffiths, director of high-speed Internet and new business engineering for Comcast, confirmed this, stating his company would have to upgrade to continue to attract new clients.

Security issues always loom large in Internet evolution

The development of the Internet has led to a need for Domain Name System Security, or DNSSEC. Curran explained that DNSSEC maintains the integrity of the Internet by ensuring the information users obtain is from the source they believe they are corresponding with, essentially preventing redirection to fraudulent websites.

Redirection could come from hackers, hijackers and phishers, but also the US government, should initiatives such as SOPA or PIPA pass.

“My primary interest is keeping the open Internet alive,” said Richard Jimmerson, director of deployment and operationalization for ISOC. “Somebody in this room will want to invent the next Facebook or Yahoo! Today, that is possible, but if we do not pay attention to certain things, that may not be possible anymore.”

Griffiths said Comcast and other Internet technology companies work together through governance processes now in place to address, for example, the types of security vulnerabilities that can drive action to work to avoid future risk, and in making adjustments in infrastructure and dealing with other emerging challenges.

Conflicts arise over the management of CIRs

The US government currently maintains the most control globally over CIRs. This is not well received by some critics around the world, as they fear that the United States may abuse its power. Some have also proposed that they would like to see a roadmap of the Internet for the next 20 years.

Curran addressed these concerns by stating that the US government has a positive track record regarding the respectful and neutral administration of its responsibility for CIRs, mostly leaving all of the operational details to multistakeholder global governance bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and ICANN, and added that roadmap would not likely be effective as there are too many unknowns moving forward.

Vernita Harris, deputy associate administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, explained that the newest Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract indicates it expects that ICANN and aspects of control over the Internet architecture “will be multi-stakeholder driven, addressing the concerns of all users both domestic and international.”

– Brennan McGovern

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The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at IGF-USA 2012
included the following Elon University students, staff, faculty and alumni:

Jeff Ackermann, Bryan Baker, Ashley Barnas, Katie Blunt, Mary Kate Brogan, Joe Bruno, Kristen Case, Allison D'Amora, Colin Donohue, Keeley Franklin, Janae Frazier, Ryan Greene, Audrey Horwitz, Elizabeth Kantlehner, Perri Kritz, Morgan Little, Madison Margeson, Katie Maraghy, Brennan McGovern, Brian Mezerski, Julie Morse, Janna Anderson.

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