I have been toying with an impossible idea. Can the Internet be rebuilt?
I am starting with a simple premise: the current Internet is broken. It is no secret that many of the protocols that make up the Web were not designed to accommodate a network such as the one that emerged in the early 90s. Protocols such as TCP/IP were built in an environment of trust, so they are prone to some inherent vulnerability and security flaws that allow distributed denial of service attacks, connection hijacking, IP spoofing, and other well-documented problems.
At the governance level, one result of the recent Snowden revelations about NSA snooping have uncovered the fact that intelligence agencies are tapping the network at the basic infrastructure level. Similarly, standard setting bodies have been compromised to allow back doors into encryption protocols.
Finally, the ideal of a distributed network has given way to a more centralized system where governments can decide to switch off incoming and outgoing Internet traffic. There is also growing centrality when it comes to cloud providers, hosting, and domain name registration.
Some of these problems are so basic that they cannot be patched, and an entire reset might be necessary.
I will be exploring some of these questions in the future. Would a bottom-up movement of hackers and enthusiasts be able to replicate the Internet? Could a new network be built on top of the existing one? What governance structures could be established to create a truly distributed global network? Is this crazy notion even possible?
Written by Andres Guadamuz