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 Wednesday, June 05, 2002

The Economist has a good piece on how the US high-tech industry is getting cosier with government and notes that the "free-wheeling, libertarian stance of the industry, always somewhat hypocritical, has been changing since the mid-1990s". Eli Noam pointed this out back in July 1997 in his wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times: An Unfettered Internet? Keep Dreaming.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002 7:33:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Is there a bottom in the telecoms onslaught? The sudden collapse of KPNQwest, who operated a large pan-European data network carrying an estimated 25-30% of Europe's IP traffic is a hot topic of discussion on Total Telecom. The collapse is going to have an unknown impact on Internet infrastructure and connectivity within Europe and internationally. Ebone and GTS, who KPNQwest acquired only in March 2002, appear to be casualties.

The rapid collapse of KPNQwest provides an interesting lesson vis-à-vis contingency planning of critical network infrastructure. Besides the large numbers of customers who'll be left stranded or scrambling for new providers, KPNQwest's infrastructure provided DNS services (secondaries through ns.eu.net*) for a number of Internet country code top level domains (ccTLDs). Those ccTLDs may need to rapidly find out whether they have enough distributed secondaries if ns.eu.net vanishes. Update: RIPE NCC has made an agreement with KPNQwest to temporarily take over the hosting of ns.eu.net.

This reminds me that less than a year ago there was a partial unavailability of one of the Internet's master root name servers, namely c.root-servers.net, located in PSInet's network infrastructure, when a large backbone provider, Cable & Wireless, disconnected PSINet's peering connections because they no longer met C&W’s requirements. The result was that C&W customers were unable to reach that root name server until the peering arrangement was reinstated.

*EUnet was acquired by Qwest in 1999 before KPNQwest was created.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002 6:08:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thousands of recently registered "dot-name" domains violate regulations governing the new Web addresses, according to a study released by Ben Edelman of Harvard's Berkman Center For Internet & Society. Also see the related article in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002 4:00:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) started last week its last call for comments on the results of the Internationalized Domain Name working group standardization activities. There are three related Internet drafts:

The thrust of the working group's hotly debated approach is to maintain an underlying ASCII representation, based on using "Punycode": an encoding technique that uniquely and reversibly transforms Unicode (an encoding of the world's language scripts) into ASCII strings. For an overview on why this particular approach was taken and how it works, see the ITU's briefing paper from its December 2001 joint seminar with WIPO on multilingual domain names. It should be emphasized that even when a technical standard emerges, it will be the beginning of a very long process. In fact, the policy and coordination issues are likely to be even more daunting than the already contentious technical work. ICANN's IDN committee has produced a related discussion paper but I think if anything, they've greatly underestimated the issues that are likely to arise. Update: It didn't take long to confirm that last statement: see follow-up Chinese Domain Name Consortium Reject IETF Approach.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002 2:31:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICANN's Evolution and Reform Committee has published its recommendations for ICANN 2.0. [icann.Blog]

Wednesday, June 05, 2002 12:00:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, June 04, 2002

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is discussing the policy and regulatory issues related to the implementation of ENUM in Australia. A study group was established in Australia by the ACA to look at the implications and possibilities of ENUM in the Australian telecommunications environment. To that end, a meeting was held last week in Melbourne. In a recent article, Telstra's Geoff Huston's has given his views on ENUM.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002 6:25:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 03, 2002

For those of us who use both a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone, the Holy Grail is a single integrated device. I've always wondered which side of the market would drive convergence of devices. On the one hand, the Palm OS and Windows Pocket PC devices have slick intuitive user interfaces with thousands of applications. On the other hand, the market clout and distribution channels of the major mobile handset manufacturers (e.g., Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson) suggested they could eventually dominate. So I kept my eye out for the perfect personal device hoping that this would suggest which sector would eventually be in the driver's seat. When Ericsson released their R380 smartphone, based on the Symbian platform and an innovative new form factor, I thought this might be a winner. Ericsson kindly lent to me one of the first versions but I finally put it aside. Despite its definite coolness factor it was still too large to comfortably carry around, somewhat too fragile and the software crashed too often. Later, when Handspring announced their Treo communicator and I read some glowing reviews, I thought this might be my perfect device. However, after seeing and handling one I still wasn't convinced. Something still wasn't quite right.

I had noticed during my trips to Asia that handsets in those markets are small, beautifully made and often hang around necks on cords - they're more like fashion accessories than phones. Slowly, it's been dawning on me that the perfect personal device is more about form factor and quality than anything. Last year, I was in Stockholm and met with Göran Skyttval, Ericsson's Director of 2G and 3G Terminals and Applications. I explained to him the "quality" problems I had experienced with my R380 and we got onto the general topic of quality in manufacturing as well as specifically with respect to handsets. Interestingly, Göran had just come back from a stint in Japan where he was in charge of Ericsson's i-mode handset development for the Japanese market. Now anyone who has had to do business in Japan knows that the average Japanese consumer is very demanding about quality, packaging and design. In fact, many companies have had to completely redesign and repackage their products for the Japanese market. Göran discussed with me these Japanese concepts of quality and demonstrated subtle differences such as in the texture of materials. He explained how he was trying to introduce these higher standards into Ericsson's handset manufacturing. Subsequent to our meeting, Sony and Ericsson combined their handset manufacturing and marketing.

This is a round-about way to say that I think I've experienced directly the results of Göran's efforts. My latest personal device, the Sony Ericsson T39m, is beautifully made, synchronizes with my contact list and calendar in Outlook/Exchange, provides GSM tri-band support, has a POP3 email client, T9 predictive text input, Bluetooth, GPRS, a long-life battery, and best of all, it has a small and elegant form factor which just feels right. It fits in any pocket and really is the first device that I don't mind having with me anywhere, anytime. So the T39m has my vote as the current perfect personal device. Bravo to Ericsson.

Monday, June 03, 2002 12:05:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 31, 2002

An article on Slashdot says that the European Union is moving toward legislation requiring specific opt-in to receive commercial email (errr... SPAM). Hooray. There's an increasing amount of legislative activity around the world to deal with SPAM such as the US Can SPAM act which prohibits sending unsolicited commercial e-mail "accompanied by header information that is materially or intentionally false or misleading". Let's hope the legislators eventually get it right and stamp this stuff out just like they did fairly effectively with unsolicited faxes.

Friday, May 31, 2002 1:03:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

This ITU information note to the press summarizes the progress being made on ENUM in ITU-T Study Group 2, ITU-T's lead Study Group on numbering issues. For ISOC's corresponding press release, see here. For information on delegations, see RIPE NCC's ENUM pages. For more information on ENUM, see the materials from a recent ITU tutorial workshop on ENUM and particularly Global Implementation of ENUM: A Tutorial Paper, much of which written by yours truly and the smart folks at Nominum, the authors of the latest version of BIND, the DNS software. The ITU Strategy and Policy Unit also maintains some information pages on ENUM.

Friday, May 31, 2002 12:16:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 30, 2002

The Guardian: Mobile phone companies should be offering irresistible incentives to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to dream up new services for them. "The sooner they realise that the balance of power between content providers and delivery networks is about to change dramatically, the sooner they will discover what they crave - a long-term revenue source to pay for their huge investments."

Thursday, May 30, 2002 6:53:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 22, 2002

The OECD is running a Broadband Workshop here in Seoul, Korea from 4-5 June 2002. Increasing broadband deployment is typically on the top of all developed country's telecom policy agendas. While much of the world's broadband deployment seems to be stalled or in the doldrums, Korea's deployment continues its phenomenal growth. I guess most government policy makers and regulators around the world are trying to understand how they can reproduce the magic that the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has found in building a knowledge-based Information Society.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 8:16:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In case you haven't heard, Realnames is shutting down and this has quite an impact on resolution services for non-Latin character set Internet name resolution services, particularly in Asia-Pacific countries where keywords have found some popularity. The ITU and WIPO, in cooperation with MINC held a symposium in Geneva in December 2001 on the topic of internationalized domain names. Two keyword providers, Realnames and Netpia, also made presentations at the symposium. The (ex-)CEO of Realnames, Keith Teare, has been running a personal weblog on the shutdown of RealNames that includes his views as well as correspondence he's been having on the subject.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 12:57:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Our workshop in Seoul, Korea has finished today and it was a nice success. Lots of thought provoking ideas on how to globally improve information systems security and network infrastructure protection. Korea has been an excellent place to hold the workshop as they have made tremendous progress here on the technical, policy, legislative and enforcement fronts. There was a much consensus that there was a need for better international standards and implementation, information sharing, halting cyber-attacks in progress, coordinating legal systems, and providing assistance to developing countries. The workshop site is being updated with the papers and presentations made during the last two and a half days. The Chairman's report should also be available there shortly.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 11:40:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dr. Steven Bryen  of Aurora Defense presented at our workshop that closed today a paper entitled A Collective Security Approach To Protecting The Global Critical Infrastructure. The paper makes a brief mention of Echelon and it was interesting to run across this article published on Cyrptome that recently appeared in the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. It reports to be an interview with one of the architects of Echelon II.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 10:06:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Proponents of the open source software movement have found a new hero in Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez, Congressman in Peru. In his letter to the General Manager of Microsoft, Peru, concerning a pending bill on "Free Software in Public Administration", he makes some convincing and eloquent arguments, particularly, in my opinion, vis-à-vis the security of nations:

"To guarantee national security or the security of the State, it is indispensable to be able to rely on systems without elements which allow control from a distance or the undesired transmission of information to third parties. Systems with source code freely accessible to the public are required to allow their inspection by the State itself, by the citizens, and by a large number of independent experts throughout the world. Our proposal brings further security, since the knowledge of the source code will eliminate the growing number of programs with *spy code*."

There's an interesting follow-up article at Linux Today.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 6:35:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Korea has (by far) the highest broadband penetration in the world with about 7.8 million households with broadband connectivity, representing 30% of Korea's 25 million Internet users (2001). Here in Seoul at our workshop, we've just had a very interesting presentation on the present status of Cyber-Crime and Cyber-terrorism in Korea and the counter measures that the Korean Cyber-Terror Response Center of the Korean National Policy Agency are taking. In 2001, they made 7,595 arrests for hacking, virus attacks, etc. Of those, 1,473 they classified as cyber-terrorism. In Korea, they have 651 members of the police force dedicated to cyber-crime activites. 232 police stations have 495 police officers tasked to deal with cyber-crime. Absolutely amazing numbers indicating that the government has no tolerance for this activity. Is this the price that will be paid when broadband is deployed? I guess all those "always-on" broadband connections are tempting targets for launching zombie attacks...

Tuesday, May 21, 2002 1:06:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

I keep telling people about Rob Flickenger's article Tapping the alpha geek noosphere with EtherPEG so I'm also posting a reference here. It's a spooky article about eavesdropping on wireless networks and the implications of tapping into a sort of collective consciousness. For all the gory details of 802.11 security problems, see Edgar Danielyan's article on 802.11  in the March 2002 issue of the Internet Protocol Journal.  Dr. Bill Hancock, Chief Security Office at Exodus drove that home in his presentation he made here today at our workshop on Critical Network Infrastructure.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002 11:35:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |