In wake of continuing revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Internet activities, the leaders of the Internet’s technical infrastructure want to take its governance global out of the hands of the United States.
In a statement issued at a conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, they “expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance,” and called for efforts toward “the evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation.”
The statement was signed by the leaders of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Internet Engineering Task Force, Internet Architecture Board, World Wide Web Consortium, Internet Society and the five regional Internet address registries.
Among the proposals is accelerating the globalization of ICANN and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, control of which has been based in the United States, overseen by the Commerce Department. As Wired points out, ICANN, which was established by the Clinton administration, has consistently awarded contracts for managing major domains to U.S. companies. The .com domain, for instance, is managed by VeriSign and .org is managed by the Public Interest Registry. Both are based in Virginia, which means they fall under U.S. laws, including those regarding surveillance by the NSA.
Although the group’s statement doesn’t mention the NSA by name, its intentions are clear. A day after issuing the statement, Fadi Chehadi, ICANN’s president and CEO, met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and later said he asked her “to elevate her leadership to a new level, to ensure that we can all get together around a new model of governance in which all are equal,” according to a post by the Internet Governance Project.
Brazil has been highly critical of the NSA’s surveillance programs and recently announced plans to create a spy-proof email system and to cut the United States out of Brazil’s Internet activity, by building an undersea fiber-optic cable that would carry traffic directly between South America and Europe. Brazil will host an international conference on Internet governance in 2014.
The Internet, of course, was originally a product of the U.S. government and although control of its infrastructure has largely remained in U.S. hands, its growth has been unregulated. The idea of international control has led to fears of that its open environment would be threatened. Last year, a panel of government and industry officials warned that a proposal to give the U.N. International Telecommunications Union authority to regulate the Internet would thwart innovation and economic growth.
International groups have called before for an end to U.S. control of the Internet, though many have called for privatizing control, rather than giving it to the U.N. The Snowden leaks about NSA activity have greatly accelerated the effort.
Posted on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:38 AM5 comments
Many urban public transportation systems offer riders GPS-based apps that show arrival times for the next bus or subway. Now Amtrak is jumping on the geospatial platform with a deal to have its national mapping data hosted in the Google cloud.
Amtrak said it would tap Google’s Maps Engine to offer an interactive train locator map, giving its 31 million customers way to see check a train’s position and when it will arrive at the station. After buying tickets, checking for train arrival times is the second most popular online activity at Amtrak.
The system works by taking near real-time train location data from GPS devices on each train. As a train passes by sensors near the tracks, location information is pushed into Google Maps Engine, along with station data from Amtrak’s content management system.
Steve Alexander, Amtrak’s creative director of e-commerce, said in a blog post that with Google handing the cloud infrastructure, Amtrak’s e-commerce team will be freed up to develop "more ways to make our map traveler-friendly, like adding information about local transit, restaurants and nearby tourist attractions."
Posted on Oct 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM1 comments
Call them glitches or failures, errors or slowdowns, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health exchanges off to a bumpy start. James Turner, writing for O’Reilly Programming, put together a list of what developers can learn from the launch of HealthCare.gov:
Load testing: Because of the scale of the traffic, developers “need to really bang on the core functionality of the site, and tune the heck out of it.”
Validation logic: Keep the client code, server code, error messages and instructions in sync.
User experience: Test, test, test.
Posted on Oct 09, 2013 at 1:23 PM2 comments
Solar weather storms and terrorist attacks are two of the greatest potential threats to the U.S. power grid, but vulnerabilities in Large Power Transformers (LPT) may also pose a high risk, according to panelists at the recent Data Center World conference.
LPTs help utilities manage the transmission of electricity and adjust the electric voltage on each segment of the grid from generation to the end user, according to a report on the conference by Data Center Knowledge.
They can be a particularly vulnerable part of the power grid because LPTs are custom-designed, cost millions of dollars to replace and, at 100 to 400 tons apiece, are difficult to transport. According to a 2012 Energy Department report, replacing LPTs could take 20 months or more given the complex procurement rules for the technology and the fluctuating price of copper and electrical steel in recent years.
Consequently, damage to one or more LPTs could expose utilities to significant downtime and further threats. “Most utilities have few spare transformers,” Tom Popik, founder of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, told the conference.
Popik recommended data center managers engage with public utilities and elected officials to make them aware of this and other threats to the power grid, according to the Data Center Knowledge report.
Posted on Oct 08, 2013 at 7:26 AM0 comments
DC Corp is launching a first data center in Martinsburg, W.Va., with an eye toward government customers. With 22 federal agencies already operating in West Virginia, Chuck Asbury, the company’s CEO, said he hopes the new data center in Martinsburg will appeal to government.
Only 90 miles from Washington, D.C., but “outside the blast zone,” the Tier 3 facility will provide backup, disaster recovery or live hosting services as well as the option for organizations to build out the space as they see fit.
With its access to dark fiber and Internet2, the company’s main focus will be federal customers and higher education institutions, Asbury told Data Center Knowledge. Groundbreaking will be in October with the first section of the facility coming online in the second quarter of 2014.
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Mo., Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development announced that it is breaking ground on the first phase of SubTropolis Technology Center (STC), an underground, mission-critical data center. LightEdge Solutions, a cloud computing, colocation and consulting company, will be the anchor tenant for STC and will open the first phase of its 60,000-square foot underground operation, built to Tier 3 standards, in the first quarter of 2014.
With LightEdge as the “proof of concept,” Hunt Midwest will market STC to government agencies and larger enterprise users who want to operate their own data centers, according to Data Center Knowledge.
SubTropolis can provide a secure location for government data centers because of the underground facility’s ability to withstand natural disasters, including F5 tornadoes, and other security threats, according to a report in the Kansas City Business Journal.
SubTropolis Technology Center is served by dark fiber capable of carrying 80 10-gigabit/sec waves, far beyond the 1 gigabit service Google is bringing to Kansas City’s residential customers via Google Fiber, Mike Bell, general manager for Hunt Midwest’s industrial/commercial development division, told the Business Journal.
Posted on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM0 comments