Thursday, January 25, 2007

Internet Governance

I attended the Internet governance panel this morning (lest you think that Davos is all play and no work). Fascinating panel: Vint Cerf (Google), Michael Dell(), John Markoff (New York Times), Hamadoun Toure (ITU), Jonathan Zittrain (Oxford) and moderated by Paul Saffo (Institute for the Future). Just a few snapshots:

John Markoff did an effective job of telling us how bad things are. Botnets (infected PCs under the control of bad guys) represent over 10% of the PCs connected to the Internet. Microsoft Vista illegal copies are already for sale in China, in spite of Microsoft's efforts. According to Microsoft, over a third of illegal copies of their OSs come with trojan infections pre-installed. He noted that Microsoft has spent tremendous amounts of effort in Vista protecting premium content. By extension, wondered what things would be like if Microsoft had spent as much efforts on protecting your private information. His bottom line:
It's as bad as you could possibly imagine!

Jonathan Zittrain made a strong analogy that the Internet today is as structurally weak as AT&T's telephone network was back in the days when you could get free telephone calls using a Cap'n crunch toy whistle.

I can't quote Vint Cerf or the ITU guy (didn't ask permission), but they brought good perspectives to the panel. Michael Dell stayed on corporate message. Wasn't clear that we made much progress on the stated topic, but I did miss the first few minutes!

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