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Def Con: Experts Sound Alarm About Global Meeting On Internet's Future

Panelists at Def Con urge security community to be aware and speak out about privacy, freedom concerns at upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) meeting

DEF CON 20 -- Las Vegas, NV -- A little-known but potentially game-changing global meeting coming up later this year in Dubai has security experts worried about the future of Internet access, privacy, and freedom.

At stake at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) meeting in December is a potential restructuring and governance of the Internet that could ultimately hamper user access. "Where I think we want to stay is that anyone in the world should be able to communicate with anyone else in the world at any time and in any place," said Rod Beckstrom, the former president and CEO of ICANN, today in the "World War 3.0" session here. "You have to have peer-to-peer connectivity, and the Internet has to be unified. If that's possible, this is a vision of what we want to protect. It gets violated when the Internet is fractured."

The WCIT meeting has some in the Internet community worried about the extent governments could get jurisdiction over elements of Internet access and content. "WCIT has some very concerned of the threat that a multistakeholder model could include governments," and it's unclear which direction this "geopolitical battle" will go, he said.

Any regulation of the Internet should be well-vetted before it's adopted, he said. "If regulation is proposed, it first must have to stand up to the burden of proof that it will add net value to the overall system," he said. The key is making governments "more flexible and reasonable," he said.

That means strengthening the multistakeholder model and view, he said.

Security researcher Dan Kaminsky, another member of the "World War 3.0" panel, said the missing link is the proper technology to support the Internet. "It turns out most technology sucks," Kaminsky said. "The system now is mostly optimized for moving pictures of cats, and it's very good at it."

Kaminsky says efforts like DNSSEC represent big-time advancements for Internet security and privacy. "Things will get better, but be aware as we go ahead and re-engineer: A lot of forces are not about reliability, and because of that they are dangerous."

Panelist Josh Corman, who has been conducting research about building a "better" Anonymous, said he's all for a little "chaos," a la Anonymous, but too much chaos can backfire. "My concern with Anonymous is that it's going to [make] policymakers try to control the Net," Corman said. "I want us to be a force for organized chaos. It needs to be a balancing effect."

Corman, along with the other panelists, urged attendees to speak up about the future of the Internet, including contacting politicians.

"We have that power, but have been reluctant to use it," Corman said.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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