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Q2: Internet Challenges

What specific challenges including, but not restricted to technical and political challenges do you expect the Internet to encounter during your tenure? How would you recommend that ISOC meet them?

This entry was posted by the ISOC Elections Committee on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 7:40 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Q2: Internet Challenges”

  1. Comment by: Jason Livingood   
    April 21st, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    The Internet faces a number of challenges, both technical and non-technical. In the technical arena, challenges include a highly complex multi-year transition to IPv6, which is likely to be a bit bumpy and lead to a short-term decline in reliability of some networks and services. In addition, DNSSEC deployment which helps protect the security of the namespace is in the early phases of use and still requires significant work to implement it more widely and at acceptable levels of stability. In addition, end users will continue to seek greater levels of privacy and control over their personal information and security.

    There are also a wide range of threats to the Internet, including cyber-crime and malware / bot networks, state and non-state cyber warfare, intellectual property theft, content and application blocking, and wholesale country-wide Internet blocking. These threats are of concern not just to affected end users and societies, but to the stability, security, and growth of the Internet as a whole.

    Outside of the technical arena, challenges include threats to the highly successful, open, consensus-based Internet community and Internet governance model, as exemplified by ISOC and the IETF. In addition, there is increasing risk the rise of a country-by-country Internet whereby content and resources may not always globally accessible.

    ISOC is focused on each of these areas currently and needs to maintain that focus, providing critically important leadership in the Internet community. For example, IPv6 has been a priority for ISOC, but victory cannot be declared in 2011. World IPv6 Day has so far been an excellent example of ISOC leadership, and this has served to raise a great deal of awareness of the IPv6 transition. However, a successful transition will take years of effort and ISOC should continue to focus intently on this issue, using a variety of tactics which are focused on the wide range of players in the Internet ecosystem (networks, software, devices, education, etc.).

    ISOC should also remain intensely focused in critical areas of Internet policy and governance and, particularly, continue to reiterate with governments and all other key stakeholders around the world how critical an open, consensus-based Internet community has been to the success of the Internet and will be to the continued success of the Internet.

    Jason Livingood

  2. Comment by: Nick Ashton-Hart   
    April 26th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I believe that the challenges the Internet faces today are those we can expect for the medium term; the problem is that external actors – especially governments – are dramatically increasing their levels of activity in order to control the development of the Internet and those, including ISOC, who want to keep it open and free need to considerably ‘up our game’ if we are going to meet the challenge.

    ISOC is in a unique position as a well-funded, global and membership-oriented organisation to ‘carry the standard’ in preventing attempts to control, filter, block, monitor, or distort traffic flows. In order to be really effective, though, ISOC needs to be much more visible:

    * Many organisations share the vision of an open and free Internet but do not understand how these concepts are threatened or what to do about it. Our members have the technical and policy background to activate national, regional, and international networks to help. ISOC should be more aggressive and visible in helping members to do this.

    * ISOC should be more visible as a thought leading organisation outside of the technical community than it is now. The regional bureaus, for example, could prioritise the identification of influential publications and websites where ISOC members and ISOC corporately could ensure its views are presented by blog, press release, and at conferences. ISOC corporately could also prioritise increasing the visibility of ISOC’s positions across all areas of activity.

    * ISOC’s focus on increasing membership is excellent. Alongside that, ISOC needs to ensure the membership is activated to help ensure ISOC positions, based on a member-driven approach, are taken up by the members and communicated through members’ networks.

  3. Comment by: Theresa Swinehart   
    May 2nd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    It goes without saying that the Internet’s evolution is unprecedented and with that the range of opportunities, but there are also some challenges. Policy makers pay greater attention to the Internet as social and economic reliance on it increases. One of the important facets Internet-related dialogues need is a strong awareness of the technical, political and policy aspects to ensure emerging policy frameworks don’t hamper trans-border data flows, and the continued innovation, growth, creativity and opportunities we have seen to date. In this regard, ISOC’s recent scenario planning work can also provide useful input to possible approaches to addressing Internet challenges.
    ISOC is in a good position to meet these challenges – by retaining awareness of emerging issues, identifying priorities, taking advantage of technical expertise resident in the IETF, IRTF, and the IAB, and continuing leadership in informing discussions, education and trainings, and engagement in international governance related dialogues.

  4. Comment by: Bill Smith   
    May 17th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The Internet has proven to be resilient and I expect history will (again) repeat itself. No doubt there presently are challenges and there will be challenges in the future. These challenges can best be met by allowing these challenges to be met by the Internet community, using mechanisms that have been developed and will be developed as required.

    We have technical challenges with the runout of IPv4 and the transition to IPv6. ISOC can help in this area by leading by example, working with others to educate, and continuing to participate in discussions in other fora. As a community, we have an opportunity to make this transition smoothly, or to encounter a significant “bump in the road”. I hope the Internet Society brings its resources to bear to help ensure the smoothest transition possible. This is an area where technology and policy overlap and ISOC should remain at the nexus.

    Internet Governance has been and will continue to be an area of considerable debate. I firmly believe that the current governance mechanisms should be maintained and changes, if any, should be carefully considered and widely vetted before implementation. The Internet Society should use its position to advocate for Internet Governance models that have proven successful in the development of the Internet.

    I would like to see the Internet Society more active in CyberSecurity, particularly CyberCrime discussions. This is a significant issue that must be addressed and I believe that ISOC can use its position to encourage solutions that benefit Internet users, without sacrificing principles.

  5. Comment by: Marcin Cieślak   
    May 25th, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I see that there are three large classes of issues pertaining to the future of the Internet:

    1. The Internet is (still) relatively fragile

    RFC1122 says that “The Internet is a network of networks”. This approach is sometimes confronted with the “end-to-end” principle, which moves intelligence out of the core of the network towards its edge. I think that the Internet is a combination of those two approaches and it is only as strong as the strength of the underlying networks. There is a whole class of challenges related to filtering, blocking, traffic prioritization, etc. etc. that might potentially burden not only on end-users but also on Internet intermediaries (ISPs and other elements of the Internet infrastructure). Internetworks are probably never going to be homogenous and uniform; that said it is not unreasonable to expect that current infrastructure will easily support new generations of services that will be made available via the Internet.

    The Internet Society should work towards more resiliency and stability of the Internet, by the means of promoting user choice, user-centric approach and increasing connectivity to achieve true end-to-end internetworking without artificial boundaries. I find that Future Internet Scenarios ( provide a good model to discuss various opportunities and threats with regard to the further development of the Internet.

    2. The Internet is shifting bits, not money

    The Internet makes shifting bits in large amounts easy, but it does not facilitate exchange of money in return. This class of issues covers a whole range of issues like ownership of works, ideas, designs, software implementations and difficulty to assert this ownership in a networked world. Some approaches like “intellectual property enforcement” does not seem to work well for a number of reasons. Lack of sustainable business models for many stakeholders may threaten diversity of the network and allow for domination of few global revenue-distributing hubs (by means of advertising money or similar).

    The Internet Society should not be concerned with invention of new business models on the Internet but we should analyze impact of the situation with respect to the openness, accessibility and diversity of the Internet. Policy reponses to those issues should be monitored carefully and solutions that impede further development of a neutral network should be avoided. We should stay on a forefront of a potentially disruptive technology developments and work with the stakeholders to fully understand the impact of the universally connected economy.

    3. The Internet makes leaking bits easy

    The Internet makes it easy to move any kind of information without really paying attention to what is being carried on. This ability combined with the increasing dependency on the information technology, especially database systems, as well as the general difficulty for computer systems to “forget data” means that huge amounts of data may be made available, willfully or accidentally, to the public. Traditional approaches to perimeter information security are not going to provide a definite answer to Internet-era threats to the data security. This problem is traditionally perceived as related to the personal privacy, but recent developments show it is equally applicable to the corporate and government security.

    The Internet Society is certainly not going to provide answers to those challenges. I envision that ISOC expertise could be used to remind the stakeholders not to “shoot the messenger” and not to held the Internet infrastructure accountable for actions or negligence of Internet users. A work can be continued to create more distributed, decentralized systems that minimize impact of potential security breaches. The stakeholders need to make informed decisions and properly evaluate the cost of using advanced data-collecting technology vis-a-vis risks related to the almost instant, persistent and universal availability of the information once made available on the Internet.

    It is easy to propose solutions to class 2 and class 3 problems that affect stability of the network and thus make Internet more fragile (class 1 problems). The Internet Society needs to stay on top of those issues to ensure the Internet continues to be what it has become today.