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NLnet and Gartner to write vision for EC's Next Generation Internet initiative

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Over the past decades, there have been quite a few sizable attempts to push for the development of a next generation internet. Whether these chose a so called 'clean slate' approach or not, it can be concluded that for all practical purposes these historical and ongoing efforts so far have not succeeded in their main objective. The ossification of the core technologies of the internet has not been successfully overturned — let alone reversed — by any of these efforts, which means that overall the internet is operating (grosso modo) the same as it was decades ago - when usage was a tiny fraction of today.

Note that the current usage as well as the complexity and requirements of modern applications (let alone future ones) by all metrics pose major scalability and security challenges for the internet, and it should be obvious to anyone that there is a lot of accrued 'technical debt' that urgently needs to be addressed. This should happen sooner than later — the internet is already functioning far beyond its original design parameters. We cannot risk pile more responsiblity and investments on top of the internet without first 'future-proofing' the internet technology stack, and finding out how to phase out or sanitize deprecated technologies that currently block innovation and put users at risk.

NLnet foundation, with the assistance of Gartner Europe [warning: 3rd party tags], has committed to helping the European Commission's DG CONNECT with its ambitious Next Generation Internet initiative. We believe this inititiative has the potential to make an actual difference, where historical efforts not only failed but in some cases even proved detrimental. NLnet c.s. will during Q2-Q4 2017 investigate, and will deliver a report in Q1 2018. The team led by Michiel Leenaars (director of Strategy at NLnet) will be responsible for creating the vision document for the European Commision on the NGI initiative. It will also investigate the R&D priorities for the NGI, and in addition will identify relevant policy components.

NLnet applauds the public investment in the 'commons' of the internet, and believes it is essential for restoring the health of the internet. In the harsh reality of the post-Snowden internet, altruistic public investment in combination with the engagement of the technical community and civil society are vital ingredients in actually delivering a 'next generation' of the internet. Underpinning the NGI are ambitious social objectives that need to be met: an internet that more than anything is an open, fair and inclusive internet of human values, that has equal opportunities for all, that actually delivers trustworthiness in the online environment. NLnet supports those goals, and is committed to actively involve the relevant technical communities — as well as digital civil rights groups and other key communities — with the NGI initiative.

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