Clean Sheet of Paper

Users complain bitterly about e-mail's perils, but technopundits like to point out that the Internet wasn't designed with privacy, security and commerce in mind. What we need is a brand-new Internet -- new technology from top to bottom, some say. Two of the people who built the Internet in the 1970s have differing views on that idea.

"I think it would be a very useful exercise to ask what a 'clean sheet' Internet would look like," says Vinton Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google Inc. and co-inventor of TCP/IP. "Whether it is possible to implement is a different question. Just trying to introduce IPv6 has been tough. On the other hand, the Internet was introduced at a time when the telephone's circuit-switched network and point-to-point data links were basically all the tools available. Who is to say that starting over is impossible?"

The future of e-mail

E-mail authentication: The choices

Q&A: The morphing of e-mail

The future of electronic communications: Alternate realities

Internet e-mail: Could we start over?

E-mail overload: How the pros handle it

Ray Tomlinson would. "It's nonsense; I can't see how that could even be done," says the man who invented network e-mail. "I can see little enclaves building up within corporations, for example, that are using some other technology, especially corporations that have multiple sites and are using things going over the base Internet. They might choose to have an alternative network for that, but they are still going to have connections to the standard Internet."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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