Where do we go from here?

Scott Bradner’s recent NetworkWorld column “What’s to become of the Internet?” pointed me towards two reports (1992 and 2006) by internet arcitect Dave Clark discussing how he feels a new, better Internet should work. Yet I disagree with some of the primary changes he proposes.

For example, Clark would like to see a basic security architecture that includes authentication of internet users. Certainly, this could bring about great changes such as the tracking and prevention of worms, viruses and spam. At what cost? Perhaps the cost of anonymity. While some would argue the benefists outweigh the costs and security requires authentication I would argue that much of the success of the Internet is based in our ability to be anonymous (or at least have the feeling of anonymity) when we choose. By building authentication into the architecture it would be much easier to track just where each user goes and what they do on the Net. It also legitimizes such tracking “in the name of security”. Just as importantly, how would people’s use of the Internet change if their identity was tied to their activities. Would the Internet be as successful or pervaisive as it is today?

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