Letter: Crashes on a chaotic Internet

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest your report "US left in cyber limbo as the Net crashes", (18 July). As chief executive of an industry consortium with over 200 members, I suggest that these events might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Today's Internet is not unlike the railways of a century ago. Railways were not originally designed for passenger traffic. The tracks were laid, but they had different gauges, different platform heights, and they didn't attach to one another. The railway network was not fully useful until these issues were addressed. Similarly the Internet was not designed for public use; the tracks have been laid, the trains are running, but there is no secure and reliable infrastructure.

The Internet is currently an ill-disciplined environment that has significant security problems associated with it. Few companies are willing to accept the risk of committing anything remotely important, valuable or operationally mission-critical on to it. As Peter Titley of BT Net rightly says, "People across the world are coming to rely on e-mail." What is required is a robust Internet infrastructure that protects freedom of choice, provides flexibility, encourages innovation and is based predominantly on widely agreed industry standards.

Unless the major information technology companies collaborate with each other and with their customers, and solicit the sanction of governments, there will be no true commerce on the Internet. Just a lot of unhappy companies hoping that a willing customer stumbles across their web-site, and unhappy salesmen wondering why the orders are not flowing into their e-mail in-boxes. What is needed is an "IT dial tone" which would help make the Internet as reliable, secure and easy to use as the telephone.


President and Chief Executive Officer

The Open Group

Reading, Berkshire