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Communications of the ACM

Letters to the editor

Reclaim Internet Greatness

Letters to the Editor, illustration


Vinton G. Cerf's Cerf's Up column "The Internet in the 21st Century" (Sept. 2018) highlighted many challenges facing today's Internet, including risks to privacy, security, and society that did not exist when the network was originally being built in the late 1960s. His concern is warranted and will require us to strike a balance between protecting the democratic and egalitarian values that made the Internet great to begin with while ensuring those values are used for good. The fundamental issue, then, in creating a 21st-century Internet becomes what changes are warranted and who will be responsible for defining and administering them.

On the technology dimension, computer scientists and engineers must develop smarter systems for detecting, addressing, and preventing malicious content on the Web. Cerf's argument on behalf of user training is helpful but will not ultimately solve the problem of an untrustworthy, ungovernable, potentially malicious network. I myself recently fell for a phishing attack, which only proves that today's attacks can fool even savvy, experienced users. Meanwhile, bad actors worldwide exploit the same infrastructure that is used by billions of well-intentioned people every day, including notoriously scammers using Google AdWords in 2017 to impersonate Amazon.1 There is clearly a need for systems deployed across all layers of the Internet stack to prevent, detect, and address such abuses.


Fakrudeen Ali Ahmed

"American companies do not need workers who are poorly prepared, do not love what they do, or do not care about the moral dimensions of their work. Tech companies, as well as computer science and engineering generally, need people called to IT as a profession, not just a career."
Although I agree with later part of the statement, does the author of this letter imply that immigrant tech workers from China, India and other countries "are poorly prepared, do not love what they do, or do not care about the moral dimensions of their work"?

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