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Net dad Vint Cerf slams RIP

You're mad if you think encryption will solve everything

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Vinton Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet, has attacked the RIP bill as a dangerous new piece of legislation.

Speaking at the Compsec conference in London yesterday he commented: "Oh my god. A lot of us in the US are very worried about the RIP Bill, it has raised some of the same concerns as Carnivore."

He said that he acknowledged that it was a matter of balancing an individual's right to privacy with the need to protect society as a whole, but was worried about the circumstances in which it comes into force.

As the online population grows the issues of personal privacy and corporate security will become more and more important, he said.

Indeed an example is the subject of a public key as a global ID - and the potential for abuse inherent in it. If we are uniquely associated with a number then anyone can use that to find out everything about us including things we might rather they not know.

He says that while he "cannot stress enough the importance of a workable public key infrastructure," anyone who believes encryption will solve all the difficult issues in the online world is "clearly insane."

Cerf says that the solution to this is to treat it rather like we do credit cards. Use multiple public keys, each one can be uniquely associated with your relationship with a company, rather than with you personally.

While stressing that as more business is done online the security and reliability of the net will become synonymous with the security of the economy, with "very serious implications" for a network failure, Cerf is keen to point out some positive trends too.

Since 1988 the Internet has been growing at between 90 and 100 per cent every year, and for the first time every country in Africa has some - albeit limited - access to the Internet. By 2009 half the world population is expected to be surfing the web in some form.

Things can only get better? We'll see. ®

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