Not deploying IPv6 threatens Internet, Lynn St. Amour warns
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Internet has 1.3 billion users, but thatâ€™s not enough for Lynn St. Amour. As CEO of the Internet Society, she is expanding the nonprofit group, which promotes development of the Internet globally. St. Amour doubled the groupâ€™s staff in 2007 and beefed up its outreach activities in Africa, South America and Asia in her bid to add another billion Internet users worldwide. National Correspondent Carolyn Duffy Marsan sat down with St. Amour this week at a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force, an ISOC-funded standards group.
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I’ve picked a few choice quotes:
On recent ISOC growth:
We’re acting within our purpose and mission. Putting in more full-time staff allows us to do that much more aggressively. [ISOC has 26 staff, compared with 14 a year ago.] Mark Thalhimer came on last year as our first-ever communications director to help us get our message out to different audiences. Leslie Daigle came on as Chief Internet Technology Officer to allow us to get more involved in standards development and technology. Yesterday, we added Bill Graham, who used to be with the Canadian government, to help us reach out to the highest level of policymakers.
Challenges for ISOC:
The first is government regulation and policies, particularly with the IPv4 and IPv6 situation. That [transition] can drive actions within countries that would be counter to the end-to-end nature of the Internet.
The second is Internet governance activities through organizations such as the United Nations. Any opportunity to get people together from different backgrounds and to talk about the Internet is ideal. But trying to put a level of formality or structure around the development of the Internet and the management of the Internet will significantly impact the value of the Internet. Itâ€™s a bad thing. We prefer the organic way the Internet has developed historically, through standards development based on need. That model has shown its strength and its goodness in the rapid growth of the Internet. Trying to force-fit a more centralized environment ala the telephony model will take away some of the good elements that have developed in the Internet.
The third is access. Enabling access includes ensuring people have the right technical skills and ensuring that there is a business environment and a regulatory environment that supports Internet development”.
On the value of IPv6:
It maintains the open, end-to-end Internet. That’s the primary reason. There are lots of secondary reasons about access to Internet resources and what happens if there aren’t enough IPv4 addresses. Our worry is that more [network address translation] will pop up and secondary markets for IPv4 address space will pop up that will work contrary to the purposes of the Internet. […] The argument is the protection of the Internet, the common Internet. It’s the same parallel of why you would support open standards development. It is about increasing the market, increasing creativity, increasing benefits. By not deploying IPv6, all those things are at risk. We will see a more heavily NAT environment. We hate to see islands of Internet connectivity, but that’s the world we are facing without IPv6.
On International Domain Names
The IETF is working on standards for internationalized domain names and e-mail addresses. But ISOC is more engaged in getting content available in local languages. Most people don’t realize that this is a problem. They think internationalized domain names are the stumbling block, and they’re not. It really is the amount of content that’s available to people in their local languages. If you want to get people on the Internet, particularly in countries that aren’t as developed, you need to put up content in the local language.
On developing ISOC
We have 80 chapters across the world. We’re in the middle of a multiyear chapter development program. We really want to support their development so they are ISOC locally. It’s the chapters that are getting people on the Internet. As the Internet has come of age, ISOC has come of age. We have a much more global profile. We’re bigger, we’re more active in issues and we’re active at higher levels.
How will we be different a few years from now? I’d like us to have a strong network of local chapters. I’d like the chapters to be active and stable. Our organizational members are the key to our success in ISOC. It’s getting more complex to get organization members to come together in a global forum because they have different business perspectives, different cultural perspectives and different national perspectives. We’re looking at segmenting our membership in a way that’s cause related. Our cause is the Internet and Internet development. What we’d like is a really robust set of engagement models so they can participate depending on where they are in the interest chain. The commercial world is very, very significant. That is where the Internet is developed and deployed. That’s why we need to work on participation from that group.