The time has come to fight against the dominance of the Internet giants. In Europe, various rules have been made announced The aim is to force these giants to respect more healthy rules of the game and be more protective of users’ rights and competition. Some even threaten to destroy the tech giant, a weapon of mass destruction rarely used in history.
Is an alternative route to a truly decentralized internet possible?
A handful of companies form a virtual monopoly within the Internet in significant areas of services (search engines, email, etc.), infrastructure (global transit, content delivery networks, cloud computing services, etc.) and even to some extent the Internet. Keeps. Standardization (IETF, ICANN/IANA, W3C, etc.). The equation is unprecedented, and his position has become almost impenetrable.
The now famous “network effect” explains the origins of the current dominance: the bigger a web player, the bigger it gets. The more users it has, the more interesting it becomes for subsequent users to connect with that player and not any others. The services provided are all the more attractive, as they appear to be “free”, but they come at the cost of commoditizing (and sometimes infringing) users’ privacy.
related: The data economy is a nightmare
Internet giants have also invested extensively in their own “pipelines” (specifically, submarine cables) to bring their content as close to the user as possible. Five years ago, these “priority access paths” represented 25% of the world’s web traffic. Today they accounting for 64%.
This is reflected in the quality of service offered by the Internet giants: latency times are greatly reduced compared to their (potential) competitors. Let’s think of a platform that would like to compete with YouTube or Netflix, but with loading times that are 10x higher.
In the end, we all have become dependent on a small group of powerful service providers.
Decentralization of the Internet has become a holy grail, and many projects have emerged to meet the challenge (for example, Filecoin, Threefold, Solid, and Dfinity).
These projects generally have similar goals:
- To “distribute” the cloud and offer an alternative to hyper-centric data centers and centralized cloud providers.
- To guarantee better protection of user privacy and “data sovereignty”.
- Allow applications to be deployed with the same level of quality and scalability as the Internet has to offer.
The technical challenge is enormous, as is the mass adoption by users of the services offered by GAFA, which is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.
However, the means to achieve these objectives differ from project to project.
SOLID is a specification that lets people securely store their data in decentralized data stores called pods. Pods are secure, personal web servers for data. When data is stored in someone’s pod, they control which people and applications can access it. The user can obtain a pod from selected pod providers (some being hosted by Amazon), or the user can choose to self-host the pod in order to be more autonomous.
Dfinity proposes the Internet Computer Protocol, or ICP, which the project describes as “expanding the Internet with serverless cloud functionality, enabling a new breed of secure software and open Internet services”. This ICP is provided by a global network of independent data centers.
Threefold deploys a peer-to-peer (P2P) grid formed by a global network of independent farmers. What sets Threefold apart from other serverless clouds is that they started from scratch and built a new infrastructure from the ground up. The main advantages of a threefold grid are:
- Privacy: The P2P environment means no middlemen or middlemen – data travels directly between people and is stored on nodes of their choice, rather than being sent and stored by a third party.
- Security: Data stored in data centers is susceptible to security breaches. By bypassing data centers and exchanging data directly between peers, greater security can be achieved, as this significantly reduces code and back doors.
- Scalability: In a many-to-many system, the scale is essentially infinite. The hardware (nodes) can be easily connected by anyone to any home or office, which is not the case with current data center models.
- Cost-efficiency and consistency: End-to-end (direct) connections between peers mean that the system will define the most efficient path for data. This leads to much higher energy and cost efficiency than the centralized data center model.
In both projects, users must purchase utility tokens that act as “gas” to reserve sovereign capacity and store data.
Internet of Universal Resources
The next level may be the actual merging of existing Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) with blockchain technology. The result will be an internet capable of carrying not only packets of data but also services in a decentralized manner. This “merger” would promote a more open, flexible and plural Internet that would seamlessly offer essential services such as information discovery, decentralized domain name management, digital identity, electronic messaging, data storage, computing power (artificial intelligence), privacy able to. Traceability and electronic signature.
These services have become the universal resource of the Internet and as such, must be provided seamlessly by the network and managed as normal.
In technical terms, the challenge is to combine data packet transport (TCP/IP) functionality with a certain “intelligence” that allows packets to encapsulate a service marker. This service marker will be read and interpreted by all components of the network infrastructure (routers, switches, servers).
In doing so, services – universal or critical – are brought back to the protocol level of the Internet. Actually, the packet (routed according to the rules of the protocol) “activates” access to these services from a dedicated node or server.
This node is part of a decentralized network of nodes. The operators of these nodes can be either existing Internet service providers, specialized companies (software publishers, data centers, etc.), or public authorities. The ownership of these nodes can also be hybrid, which is shared between these different actors.
The Belgian Public Utility Foundation (IOUR Foundation) promotes this type of approach and offers a suite of protocols that bring native services to the bottom layer of the Internet. Such a proposal has fundamental implications for the physical identity of the Internet, in particular: decentralized governance, interoperability of services, native traceability and privacy.
A decentralized, native search engine
No Internet service is more focused than search engines (63% of all searches and 94% of both mobile and tablet search traffic) Comes from Google).
This essential function can be offered by the Internet network (through its enhanced protocols), resulting in a more objective, more complete and more privacy-friendly search engine, as all search data will be stored in a decentralized manner by the network and Will no longer be centralized on private servers. In addition, users will be able to decide whether to anonymize their search.
It is really important to foster active collaboration and complementarity among all of the above projects (and others) that pursue similar objectives.
Synergies are not only possible, they are obvious. Threefold Grid, for example, can add real value to Dfinity or Solid and other similar projects if they want to benefit from a truly decentralized and sovereign infrastructure, rather than relying on the current data center model. The IOU infrastructure of the future should – and should – rely on such a grid to deploy the nodes that are needed to enable the Internet to provide “native” services.
Cooperation is the essence of the new world we want to build.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, opinions and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Thibault Verbiest, a lawyer in Paris and Brussels since 1993, is a partner with Metallaw, where he heads the department dedicated to fintech, digital banking and crypto finance. He is the co-author of several books, including the first book on blockchain in French. He serves as an expert with the European Blockchain Observatory and Forum and the World Bank. Thibault is also an entrepreneur, as he co-founded Copyright Coins and Parabolic Digital. In 2020, he became president of the IOUR Foundation, a public utility foundation that aims to promote the adoption of a new Internet, merging TCP/IP and blockchain.