Eugene Kaspersky, head of Muskovite antivirus research outfit Kaspersky Labs, has revealed a brave new vision for a safer cybersphere which, if successful, will redefine the very nature of information as we know it: state control of the Internet.
The bizarre call was delivered in person by Kaspersky to stunned journalists at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany last week.
Kaspersky says that governments should take control of the Internet to save it from buckling under the increasing pressure of worms, viruses and other cyberattacks and control it in the same way other public networks, such as electricity and traffic information networks, are controlled.
Kaspersky also advocated licensing for users and an Internet police force to patrol the information superhighway.
"If we want to have a big public network like the Internet in the future, there must be very strict usage rules. If we don't have those, the Internet will just die," Kaspersky said. "The Internet today is like a road without policemen and driving licences."
Other antivirus vendors were not quite sure what to make of the statement. Symantec's Asia Pacific head of security response David Banes very politely told Computerworld that Kaspersky "is entitled to his opinion", adding that the proposal was "interesting" -- above what appeared to be muffled laughter in the background.
Paul Ducklin, Sophos antivirus' head of technology for Asia Pacific, offered a more hands-on appraisal of Kaspersky's vision: "We'd need a new field in IP headers in which to mark packets with 'L' or 'P' to identify newbies… plus impose restrictions in online access speeds, and limit new users to Outlook Express with IE 4 for the first two years. Anyone using the Internet in a chair with wheels would have to wear an approved safety helmet (except for those with medical exemptions, of course). I suppose there'd be a small upside: eye tests. 'You must be able to read the following virus alert dialogues at a distance of at least 450mm," he said.
Ducklin added that not all road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, required licences yet the road system survives. "I don't see the road system falling apart in the way that Eugene predicts will happen to the Internet."
For those wondering what a nationalised or state controlled Internet could be called, Computerworld has invented special neo-Soviet terms… just in case.
Similar to Perestrioka, netizens ought to familiarise themselves with Natsinalitsiya Internetu (meaning Nationalised Internet) and Upravlinye Internetu (meaning Regulated Internet) for the centrally planned cybersphere of the future.