Vint Cerf & 200 Friends: Make All Network Equipment Open Source

Vint Cerf, Dave Farber and Dave Täht present to the FCC a plan for more secure, reliable WiFi Routers and Internet. Cerf urges “a bare minimum of openness in the technology at the edge of the Internet. He believes this would “ensure that any mistakes or cheating are caught early and fixed fast.” 

260 engineers joined the call including prominent ones like Linus Torvalds, Bruce Schneier, David Reed and Paul Vixie. The vendor would be required to post their software on a public repository such as Github. They would be required to fix any security holes and provide updates as security problems are discovered. In particular, the FCC rules should:

  • Provide public, full, and maintained source code for review and improvement 
  • Assure that secure firmware updates are available and under owner control 
  • Address known security vulnerabilities in source and binary within specific time frames 
  • Be made aware that noncompliance could result in decertification.

Many, probably most, WiFi routers and smartphones are not updated to fix all known security holes, I believe. Without access to the source code/firmware, users cannot do anything about vulnerabilities in their own equipment. Without access, many Internet advances will be difficult or impossible to implement.

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NY Times: Facebook “Inspires Rise in Violence” in Palestine

Totally unproven, very dangerous but common idea. Hillary Clinton believed the Internet could inspire “regime change” and the U.S. State Department spent millions supporting dissidents in Egypt, Iran and China. Angela Merkel has personally demanded Facebook heavily censor anti-immigrant comments in Germany. Now the New York Times reports “Israeli and Palestinian security services had arrested hundreds of online instigators in recent months,” but “it had done little good because ‘ideas are becoming immortal — you can take down pages but it will multiply itself.'” 

It’s too easy to blame the Internet and the above is probably overstated. There were few Internet connections in Palestine during the First and Second Intifadas but thousands chose to risk their life. It’s certainly true the Internet makes everything easier, from arranging a bowling date to fomenting a revolution. Lenin needed couriers at great risk to smuggle his papers into pre revolutionary Russia. 

There are no easy answers here.

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Oct 19 Columbia: State of Telecom Oct 20 Media Concentration Around the World

Milo MedinMatthias Kurth, Robert Pepper, Craig Moffett and other true experts. (Those links take you to comments about who these guys are and what good questions to ask them.) Eli Noam, world-leading public intellectual, and partner Robert Atkinson’s annual State of Telecom will be followed the next day by a remarkable conference on Media Concentration. Events like Columbia’s become even more important as the lobbyists control almost all the D.C. events. (Five of the first six speakers at the U.S. IGF planning meeting were current or former lobbyists, most from giant multinationals.)

The free Livestream is at Thanks to Joly McFie and the Internet Society for the stream. Tickets to the live event oost from $25-$150. I’m sure no one will be turned away because of inability to pay.

Tuesday the 20th will be a remarkable event with Eli bringing together more than two dozen scholars from around the world to discuss media concentration.

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