It might seem like nightmare scenario. A terrorist organization or nefarious nation state decides to derail the global internet by faulting the undersea fiber optic cables that connect the world. These cables, which run along the ocean floor, carry almost all transoceanic digital communication, allowing you to send a Facebook message to a friend in Dubai, or receive an email from your cousin in Australia.
When New York City first started replacing its public pay phones with free Internet kiosks, it probably didn't expect homeless people to start watching porn on them. So the company behind the Internet service, LinkNYC, has now installed a software filter to prevent people from accessing adult material from each of the 180 Web-enabled kiosks scattered around Manhattan and the Bronx. It was great," one homeless man said of the ban (and the porn), according to the New York Post. LinkNYC's decision effectively creates a curated version of the Internet for the kiosk's millions of potential users. Well, as part of a closely watched federal court case last week, a panel of judges ruled that curated Internet services are exempt from the government's rules on net neutrality -- a set of regulations aimed at ensuring that no ISP can block or slow down the websites you want to reach.
Russian lawmakers want to tighten the screws on Russia's internet access by creating an "sovereign" network that the Kremlin could shut off from the greater World Wide Web. Proponents of a bill now working its way through the Russian parliament say passing the measure will protect the country's internet from foreign cyberattacks or other threats. But international human rights groups and opponents say the law is an attempt to create a firewall around Russia's internet and restrict information flow. The law's introduction has drawn comparisons to China's restrictive Great Firewall. Technology experts say beyond the concerns about freedom of information, even if the measure passes, it's unclear whether Russia would be able to build the technical infrastructure to pull it off.
The vision of an open Internet is characteristic of Silicon Valley's tech pioneers. The free and efficient flow of packets of bits requires decentralization to prevent bottlenecks occurring at the central points as the system scales, open standards to allow interoperability, and IP addresses to identify the correct destination. We take this system for granted, but one does not need a very long memory to recall a time when IT was dominated by proprietary protocols like AppleTalk or DECnet, and when one could not easily send an email message from AOL to Prodigy. Yet the Internet has not simply improved--it has evolved into an open system as a result of philosophical and political decisions, as well as technical ones.2,5 In a recent Communications "Cerf's Up" column, Vinton Cerf argued there is a fundamental division between the IP layer and the application layers of the Internet, which together function to keep the open Internet flowing, and what he called the "virtual political layer," higher in the stack where the content is consumed and judged.
Dyn, a leading DNS provider, confirmed that it experienced a global denial-of-service attack on its "Managed DNS" infrastructure, causing service interruptions across the internet for people on the East Coast. "We have been aggressively mitigating the DDoS attack against our infrastructure," Scott Hilton, a vice president at Dyn said in a statement provided by a spokesman. The issues had been mostly resolved by 9:20 a.m. Eastern Time, just over two hours after they first reported problems, he said. If it seems like there have been more of these sorts of outages lately, it's because there have.