Vinton Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist

Vinton Cerf
Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

1. We need to get some idea of the scope of what is presently in use (in terms of networks and technologies) -- a soup-to-nuts assessment.

2. In the course of evaluating what we have, we also have to ask what to do about improving the security of the system.

3. The interest in cloud computing is appropriate. The question is what happens if there’s more than one cloud? And how do clouds interact with each other? If there are access controls associated with information within this cloud, how do I re-instantiate those access controls if the data moves to a new cloud? What’s my vocabulary? This is actually a reprise of a lot of the questions that came up in Internet. So inter-cloud stuff is going to be the next decade’s really interesting communications and networking challenge.

4. Next, I’m concerned about the government need to use computing to become more efficient internally. What I’d like to see is sufficient standardization so that the only reason you can’t exchange information among government systems is because you set a policy not to do that. If the policy changes, I don’t want the technology to be the obstacle; I want the technology to be the facilitator.

5. And international interactions -- we need to reinforce our ability to use information technology to interact with the rest of the world. Small example: When we carry out electronic commerce…there’s a question about how a digital signature is interpreted in [different] jurisdictions. It’s not clear to me whether the jurisdiction in Europe sees the same significance to a digital signature that we do in the United States or vice versa. What happens if one party fails to meet their obligations in the contract and you seek recourse, and someone says, “Well, it wasn’t a valid contract because the digital signature doesn’t count”? That wouldn’t be a good outcome.

To generalize that, I see a lot of opportunities for multi-stakeholder discussions — and I use that world deliberately, because multilateral usually means multiple governments. Multi-stakeholder refers to the private sector, civil society, governments and the technical community. I’m convinced that U.S. leadership will only be manifest if it is carried out in a multi-stakeholder fashion.

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