another great meeting organized by DHS S&T

November 2nd, 2008 by kc

Busy month. On 15 October I presented CAIDA’s analysis of the CAIDA/ARIN IPv6 survey at the ARIN meeting. More on that later.

The next day I presented to the DHS/SRI Infosec Technology Transition Council (ITTC), where “experts and leaders from the government, private, financial, IT, venture capitalist, and academia and science sectors come together to address the problem of identity theft and related criminal activity on the Internet.”

It is only a three-hour meeting, a few times a year (my first time), but intense. They had a timely panel first, “Integrity in Elections”, where they reviewed so many methodological flaws in voting procedures, they shed substantial doubt on the proposition of fair national elections anytime soon. John Sebes motivated the computational science challenge well: if we are not capable of building a trustworthy computational system to accomplish the conceptually simple task of tallying a vote, what can we expect to be capable of building trusted computational systems to do? And while there is inspirational work on documenting and proposing how to solve the technology issues that threaten election integrity, the bottom line is disheartening.

Then was my talk, “Internet Science: Why Wall Street and Main Street Should Care”, a survey of CAIDA activities with emphasis on a recent DHS S&T funded project on Internet mapping. I posed questions we want to be able to pursue with our new active measurement infrastructure and why it’s important to pursue them. I explained why I worry about Forbes Magazine using CAIDA’s asrank tool as a definitive industrial ranking of Internet companies. I mentioned the IPv4 address space runout and our anguished response. Regarding lack of transparency, I drew a few comparisons between the Internet ecosystem and the financial ecosystem. I succeeded in making everyone uncomfortable. The only question there was time for at the end was from an attentive woman from DOD, “Well, wait a minute, how do things get better, what are we going to do about this mess?”

I didn’t give a good answer, so I wanted to follow up. My list of things lawyers should know about the Internet covers how several communities are responding, and recommends several steps for moving forward. But the final speaker, Rod Beckstrom (new director of DHS’s National Cybersecurity Center) pointed out (and represents) an important part of the solution, which applies not only to voting integrity and the Internet, but to other federally-regulated resources transformed by the Internet: education, spectrum, intellectual property.: there is a lot of heavy political lifting to be done. A big part of that lifting is educating government sufficiently about the Internet so they can set effective policies. And while the best talent remains in the private sector, slow progress will be made on opening channels of communication, because the private sector has only disincentives to open them.

Doug manages to open these channels (not to mention effect other change), by getting academic, industry, and government colleagues in a room every few months to informally discuss technical developments. Like Rod’s decentralized peace network of CEO’s — as well as Rod’s decision to come to DHS — the ITTC illustrates how to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

All the notions we thought solid, all the values of civilized life, all that made for stability in international relations, all that made for regularity in the economy.. in a word, all that tended happily to limit the uncertainty of the morrow… all this seems badly compromised. I have consulted all the augurs I could find, of every species, and I have heard only vague words, contradictory prophecies, curiously feeble assurances. Never has humanity combined so much power with so much disorder, so much anxiety with so many playthings, so much knowledge with so much uncertainty. — paul valery, historical fact

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