Internet standards process should be scrapped says Sun man

The time-honoured Internet standards process must be scrapped and replaced if the Internet is to become fit for commerce, says a Sun Micro-systems official. Sun technical director Spiro Alifrangis, in New Zealand to present briefings on security products, says the system that brought TCP/IP and the Internet DNS into being can no longer move fast enough. He cites the slow progress of IP version 6, which contains a number of security features considered vital for electronic commerce.

The time-honoured Internet standards process must be scrapped and replaced if the Internet is to become fit for commerce, says a Sun Micro-systems official.

Sun technical director Spiro Alifrangis, in New Zealand to present briefings on security products, says the system that brought TCP/IP and the Internet DNS into being can no longer move fast enough. He cites the slow progress of IP version 6, which contains a number of security features considered vital for electronic commerce.

“I believe very strongly that IP version 6 should have been here this year, and it’s not,” says Alifrangis. “And that postpones or delays any kind of commerce development on the Internet.”

The Internet Engineering Task-force (IETF) model “will not work any more”, says Alifrangis. “But who’s going to change that? You go to group meetings and you see [DNS inventor] Paul Mockapetris, all the same people proposing the same ideas to the standard. Their ideas are great — these are magnificent individuals and scientists but they don’t respect process.

“The answer to that is to change that process altogether and for someone to step in with authority and establish what the process and the policies should be. The Internet is no longer a toy, it’s not ARPANet any more, it’s not a scientists-only zone. It’s business and it’s commerce.”

Alifrangis acknowledges that business interests taking control of the process would represent a major shift of power, “but that’s reality”.

“It has shifted. So how do you deal with it? If you don’t have the process to evolve and solidify the standards that make the Internet run, we’re asking for trouble for the infrastructure.”

He favours standards being run by “a commercial operation, with no government involved”, but acknowledges the need to avoid handing it to a “private dictatorship” such as Network Solutions, which runs the DNS in the US.

“You had NASDAQ being pulled off the DNS recently — and Network Solutions didn’t even apologise! Even if an apology was forthcoming, the damage that NASDAQ suffered for the 24 hours they were off the Net was extraordinary. We don’t want that either.”

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