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[ Introduction ]
[ Domain Name System (DNS) Considered Harmful ]
[ Update on Digital Television ]
[ CFP2000 ]
[ ACM Book on Intellectual Property ]
[ Third On-Line Survey ]
We have commented on the Computers: Freedom and Privacy Conferences before in
these columns (CG May 1998, Aug 1999). These conferences are an excellent
opportunity for technical people, policy makers and advocates to get together and discuss
issues of mutual concern. The problem from SIGGRAPH's perspective is that the focus
on freedom and privacy issues have made it an awkward forum for presentation of our
For CFP2000 (http://www.cfp2000.org) which will be held in Toronto April 4-7, 2000, we have
jointly submitted two session proposals. Both are on issues related to high speed Internet
access capabilities such as cable modems and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). We view
impediments to the timely availability of these services as putting the practitioners of
computer graphics in a second rate position in Internet use by the general public.
Two critical issues with these services are the lack of ISP choice (usually) and increased
concerns over security and privacy. Consequently we have submitted session proposals
for two panels: Freedom and Choice in Broadband Internet Access, and Security and
Privacy in Broadband Internet Services.
The first session includes a presentation by Canadian trade association and government
representatives on that country's cable television "open access" requirements and their
planned implementation later this year. In 1998, Canada's telecom regulators ordered
cable TV operators to let their cable modem customers use any Internet service provider.
Since then, the affected industries have worked with Cisco Systems to develop necessary
technology for this innovative policy.
Another topic to be covered is future pricing of residential broadband Internet access (as
debated by consumer and service provider representatives). The data rates and low-delay
delivery needed by streaming multimedia, arguably comprise a new premium-grade
service, which can be priced accordingly. But would that undermine the Universal Service
principle in the U.S.' 1996 Telecom Act?
A final set of issues for the session center on the degree to which commercial and
architectural trends in today's Internet may disadvantage small and non-profit speakers.
Such trends include distributed content-caching for quick access to multimedia
information from anywhere, and business partnerships between Internet access providers
and online vendors of goods, services, information and entertainment. When these deals
make some content easier and/or quicker to access, other content is arguably harmed in
the "battle for eyeballs."
The security and privacy session takes advantage of the fact that tomorrow's consumer
Internet connection is likely to be broadband provided by either Digital Subscriber Line
(DSL) or cable modem. Several characteristics of these services ('always on',
permanent IP addresses and the use of LAN technology for the computer interfaces)
present increased security and privacy risks. In addition, the likely deployment of home
networks means that there is both more at stake and an added complexity in providing
appropriate security and privacy.
The 'always on' and permanent (or at least, long duration) IP address nature of these
connections present a much greater level of vulnerability to 'crackers' than the more
familiar dial-up connections with their relatively short connection times and pool assigned
IP addresses. Unlike industrial and academic Internet users which have implemented
substantial security measures, such as firewalls, the typical consumer has no knowledge
or convenient means to implement such capabilities.
The use of LAN technology for the computer interface to these services presents another
challenge to the usually network naive consumer. This problem is particularly acute for
users of MS Windows which typically has the default network parameters set to 'share
everything'. Several reports in the popular press recently have highlighted this situation
with descriptions of neighbors having access to each other's files and even printers!
After the session chair summarizes the issues, panel members representing providers will
review their approaches to these issues. Then two knowledgeable experts will summarize
what may be done to protect a system in a typical consumer environment. After the brief
panel member presentations, we will have discussion among the panelists and questions
from the audience.
As this is written we are working with the CFP2000 Program Committee to refine both of
these sessions. CFP program committees typically are very much involved with those who
propose sessions in combining sessions, adding and subtracting speakers, etc. For current
details, please consult the CFP2000 website (http://www.cfp2000.org).