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RIPE opposes China's internet protocols upgrade plan


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EU-based Internet governance body RIPE is opposing a proposal to remodel core internet protocols, a proposal backed by the Chinese government, Chinese telecoms, and Chinese networking equipment vendor Huawei.

Named “New IP,” this proposal[1, 2, 3] consists of a revamped version of the TCP/IP standards to accommodate new technologies, a “shutoff protocol” to cut off misbehaving parts of the internet, and a new “top-to-bottom” governance model that centralizes the internet and puts it into the hands of a few crucial node operators.

The New IP proposal was submitted last year to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and brought to the public’s attention following a Financial Times report last month (paywalled, see alternative coverage here).

The proposal received immediate criticism from the general public and privacy advocates due to its obvious attempt to hide internet censorship features behind a technical redesign of the TCP/IP protocol stack.

The New IP proposal was described as the Chinese government’s attempt to export and impose its autocratic views onto the rest of the internet and its infrastructure. Millions of eyebrows were raised when authoritarian countries like Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia expressed support for the proposal.

RIPE says internet standards should be left to the IETF

In a blog post this week, RIPE NCC, the regional Internet registry for Europe, West Asia, and the former USSR, formally expressed a public opinion against China New IP proposal.

“Do we need New IP? I don’t think we do,” said Marco Hogewoning, the current acting Manager Public Policy and Internet Governance at the RIPE NCC.

“Although certain technical challenges exist with the current Internet model, I do not believe that we need a whole new architecture to address them.”

Hogewoning says that any endeavors to revamp internet protocols should be left to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the international body that has been in charge of defining internet standards for decades. Such issues should not be left to the ITU, which is the United Nation’s telecommunications body, and an agency where political influence rules, rather than technically-sound arguments.

In addition, RIPE is also concerned with the attempt to change the internet’s current decentralized nature.

In a document with a harsher tone RIPE sent to the ITU in February, the organization expressed its concerns about the New IP proposal.

“The RIPE NCC is deeply concerned by what has been proposed here,” Hogewoning said. “We are especially concerned by the notion that this proposal represents an opportunity to steer away from the traditional ‘bottom-up’ decision-making model.

“We also believe the technical rationale presented is flawed and find the suggested alternative designs to be both unrealistic and unproven.”

Going forward, Hogewoning urges national internet governance organizations to reach out to local decision-makers and recommend that they vote against the New IP proposal, which is set to enter into testing in 2021, and go under a vote at a later date.

“For now, what is most important is that we, as an industry, state our needs and let decision makers know that New IP is not what we need,” the RIPE manager said.

“Talk to your government representatives at the ITU and elsewhere and make sure they understand that this proposal is not about a real need for new technology, but about trying to alter the governance structure of the Internet.”

Emphasis in the last two paragraphs by ZDNet.



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