A Synthesis on the Paper Entitled “Rethinking the design of the Internet: The end to end arguments vs. the brave new world” by D. Clark

In Clark’s paper “Rethinking the design of the Internet: The end to end arguments vs. the brave new world” various issues and problems regarding the Internet and its use are discussed relative to the end to end arguments design principle of the Internet. The end to end arguments suggests that the lower levels of the system, the core of the network, be kept simple in design. The application level needs should be addressed in the end-points of the network and not on the network itself, since the concern of the network should only be the facilitation of the transport of data packets from one end to another. The identified advantages of keeping the core network simple are reduction in the complexity of the core of the network, flexibility of the network to accommodate new applications, and increase in reliability of end-point applications.

Since the creation of the notion of communicating internetworks several new requirements emerged which posed challenges on the end to end arguments design philosophy of the Internet. These includes the security of transactions across the network, new resource demanding applications, introduction of new players which are involved in the commercialization of services on top of the Internet (like ISPs), the introduction of third parties in the communication of end-points, and the servicing of less savvy users. All these new requirements must be handled by the end to end arguments philosophy to keep the core of the network simple.

In todays transactions over the Internet, security (and sometimes anonymity) are base requirements for communication. Payment over the Internet resulted to rise of parties which mainly serves as intermediary between the two ends involve in the transaction. The government (most likely in other countries) also started joining end-to-end communications over the Internet for purposes of surveillance, censorship and taxing. This is nothing new about the government since the invention of the notion of wire tapping. Attacks over the Internet by hackers and the propagation of computer viruses over the network caused anxiety on end users causing lack of trust on hardware and software.

It is a challenge to the end to end arguments design philosophy to handle these issues without being violated. Technical responses were employed to answer these issues. The end to end arguments suggests that the changes be made to the end-points and not on the network itself. Application specific enhancement on the core network may cause crash of the network itself when the specific application fail or may cause non-flexibility of the network thereby limiting the range of applications which may be attached to the network. It is suggested then that enhancements be made on the application side to limit the scope of damage to the end-points if ever. A violation of the end to end arguments has been employed recently though. These violations are justifiable though based on the purpose which they serve. These are the installation and usage of firewalls, traffic filters, and Network Address Translation elements. They serve the purpose of prevention of anomalies in the end-points and address space management. Along with these enhancements in the core of the network comes issues like imposing of control on the communication path and revealing or hiding of message contents. Labeling of information is adapted in some countries to answer the need for classifying messages running across the network. In addition to technical solutions proposed and adapted to answer the aforementioned issues, nontechnical solutions also plays a major part of the solution. Laws on cyberspace started to be drafted, passed, and enforced in some countries to employ a certain level of control on the transactions over the Internet. This may be a violation of the end to end arguments but its purpose justifies its adaptation. Labeling schemes were proposed and are adapted to classify information over the Internet even though the efficiency and scope of enforcement of this scheme is not totally assured. The nature of the Internet being trans-boundary has a huge effect on the enforcement of cyberspace laws. Voluntary submission to such laws is desired for the “regulation” of transactions over the Internet.


About Jeffrey A. Aborot

> Background: BS Computer Science, University of the Philippines Baguio. > Work: Advanced Science and Technology Institute - Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines. > Academics: MS Computer Science (on-going), Algorithms and Complexity Laboratory, Computer Science Department, UP Diliman > Languages: Filipino, Tagalog, Cuyunon, English, Java, Python, C. > Operating Systems: Linux, OSX. > Weird Stuff: Bunch of Pentax film cams.
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One Response to A Synthesis on the Paper Entitled “Rethinking the design of the Internet: The end to end arguments vs. the brave new world” by D. Clark

  1. laineyzo says:

    I think the last sentence in the post about the needing laws to regulate the Internet is very telling on how the Internet has evolved over the past few decades. For all the technical solutions also outlined in the post, there is still a need for laws to make sure everyone stays on the line on what they do on the Internet but unlike other regulated industries such as banking or retail, the Internet has no geographical boundaries therefore laws are a lot hard to impose.
    -Elaine Zosa

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