The Net unwinding
New Russia Office of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) engaged in Web standards development has already been functioning for a month. Russian segment of the Web without doubt will only benefit from it. But the yet another issue is hot, namely what awaits the Internet-users in the nearest future.
Standards for World Wide Web
W3C, now unites more than 350 organizations, both private and non-profit, in 28 countries. Led by WWW-inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffey, it develops so-called standards (or rather 'recommendations', as developers are free to adopt them) for description and presentation of data for Web applications.
W3C Offices that partner with regional organizations to host W3C Offices (Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia), act as local points of contact and promote W3C specifications in the region.
Russia with its growing IT-market is of particular interest for foreign colleagues. “It is very positive to see growing demand for Russian talent not only to be included in one of the most dynamic industries, but also to shape it,” says Victor Klintsov, Deputy Director of Institute of Information Technology at Higher School of Economics and the head of the new Office.
Apart from building faster and more comfortable Web, W3C, tries to ensure the secure environment for Internet-users. Widespread broadband access and intuitive user interfaces brought to the Net millions of people that cannot tell a bit from a byte. For instance, the number of Internet-users in Russia according to the World Bank has grown from 35.3 mln to almost 61.5 mln in 2007—2010.
Since new users are not aware of programs' vulnerabilities, they are an easy prey for Internet fraud. Not only personal computers that are under threat, but large databases on transactions, customers, and partners kept by major corporations as well as state agencies are in constant danger of cyber-abuse. As web applications for business are developing, security problems will remain on top of agenda for any individual or organization using internet. Personal data thefts hit the headlines almost on a daily basis. New viruses for mobile devices emerge, which have been rather exotic for a long time.
Internet security issues are no less important for state agencies than for the web laymen. While the latter take advantage of antivirus software and a private company establishes a new department, the US president Barack Obama in 2009 announced a new White House office in charge of cyber security. In the same time Pentagon was considering a new military command for cyberspace that should withstand ever-growing cyber threats as attacks on electricity grids and air traffic control system. Russian vice PM Dmitry Rogozin has just announced that a similar cyber command can be established in Russia.
Net technologies were widely used by the US in 1991 during the Gulf War to support military operations. However, operations that concern virtual world only will most likely become no less significant warfare in the nearest future. The most prominent events of the recent times are hacker attacks on the Google servers in China, which led to Google considering withdrawal from the country; viruses that can disrupt industrial operation systems, like the one which affected Iranian nuclear facilities; Anonymous group attacks on official state servers, cyber espionage, and limited access to information practiced, for example, by China.
Crossing the borders
Being to a large extent a border-free zone, the Internet is nevertheless operated by state organizations, with ICANN being the most obvious example.
ICANN, short from Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is responsible for the coordination of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, domain names and other related issues. It is a non-profit corporation, but it operates under the agreement with the US Department of Commerce.
Still, the discontent over the privileged position of the USA is growing globally. The most recent suggestion to transfer a part of ICANN's tasks to a new truly international entity was made at New World 2.0: Concertizing the Internet of the Future forum held in Paris, in autumn 2011. Such an organization can function under the UN aegis, as for example International Telecommunication Union. However, up until now the international structures remain slower and far less flexible than private organizations.