Never before has the need been more evident for open standards that support privacy and security. The question is where do the solutions to our current security problems lie?

Never before has the need been more evident for open standards that support privacy and security. Olaf Kolkman, open standards advocate and CTO of the Internet Society (ISOC), (an affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles) has been focusing on the need for collaborative security. Kolkman authored this recent article for ISOC in which he asserts that use of the Internet, or participation in this great innovation we call the world wide web, carries with it collective responsibility:

“When you connect to the Internet, you become a part of its ecosystem. Even more, across the Internet there is no clear line between consumers and suppliers; every participant is a contributor.”

Kolkman argues that this collaborative and egalitarian culture is part of what makes the Internet so powerful. The outcome of the collaborative nature of the Internet creates valuable opportunities. However, as more and more participants join and increasing power becomes inherent in various functions, security and governance is becoming a more apparent concern both for end-users and service providers.

We recently highlighted ISOC’s powerful new stance on collaborative security, here on the OpenStand Blog. ISOC’s stance, outlined in a recent white paper, highlights the importance of  “fostering confidence and protecting opportunities” in the internet environment. Unfortunately, Kolkman argues, there is little economic incentive for individual providers to develop, deploy and maintain key security technologies. In fact, Kolkman points out that because they will most likely bear the expense for assuming a more proactive position with regard to security, there is likely to be dis-incentive for providers to act more decisively—even if raising the level of security in the system and reinforcing confidence in the Internet are stated outcomes.

As a solution to this problem, some point to establishing legal mandates driving increased security measures for providers. However, as Kolkman points out:

“That approach would go against one the fundamental and foundational principles of the Internet: as an organic system, a network of autonomous networks, not built from a global blueprint but developing in accordance with local needs and conditions, deployment depends on voluntary agreement and collaboration. Forcing security and scalability through global mandates may be slow, and may have unintended side effects.”

Accomplishing global deployment of secure, resilient, future-proof Internet technology is better done, as Kolkman calls it, “the Internet way”: at the initiative of individual actors, based on their own decisions and leadership; and through sharing know-how and experience, both voluntary and professionally.

He points to the example of the recently launched initiative, in which the Dutch Internet community collaborated to set up a website for the purpose of communicating deployment and access status for key internet technologies.

Kolkman argues that the solutions to many of our current security problems problem do not lie so much lie in legislation as they do in leadership. Leaders and supporters of the collaborative Internet must continue to be vocal and visible about advocating for open standards. They must be more transparently and openly collaborative in their security innovations and solutions, in order to achieve a more secure future ”the Internet way.”