Vint Cerf Wants Public Outcry Over ISPs’ IPv6 Delays

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Cerf is still banging on about IPv6, calling on people to put more pressure on the likes of BT

One of the pivotal figures in the creation of the Internet, Vint Cerf, has called on the general public to get their ISPs to hurry up with IPv6 deployments, as the likes of BT choose to drag their feet on issuing fresh IP addresses.

In a speech which rehashed well known Cerf material dating back to 2010 (cyber fire departments to quell security events and the interplanetary Internet), the Internet pioneer took a slightly new tack in his bid to get ISPs moving on the rollout of IPv6 addresses, during his keynote at the the Campus Party in London today.

IPv6 BigCerf and his DARPA crew created IPv4 addresses back in 1977, but they are now running out, if not already depleted. IPv6, which was been ready for use since 2006, allows for a far greater pool of addresses for Internet-connected things, but ISPs have been slow to do much about it.

Fixing IPv6 with people power

Cerf – who is now employed by Google as an Internet evangelist – has blamed himself before for not anticipating how many addresses would be needed to support the growth of the Internet, but now believes customers should be kicking up a fuss, as it is ISPs’ responsibility to fix the problem now.

“There’s something you can do for me, and I’d appreciate it as chief Internet evangelist at Google. It’s to ask your ISPs what is their plan for IPv6 and when will they make it available,” Cerf said.

“I would like very much for you to help us get to IPv6. They [IPv6 and IPv4] have to run in parallel because they’re not inter-workable.”

But ISPs have not shown much interest in rushing. BT, PlusNet and others are opting to pool certain batches of IPv4 addresses and hide them behind one IP address, using what is known as Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT), rather than push on with IPv6 apace.

That’s annoyed some, though, as sharing an IP with others can cause certain issues. For instance, CGNAT prevents users from serving content to the wider Internet from servers on their home network.

A defence of Glass

Cerf did touch on some more current topics, offering a defence of Google Glass in the face of criticism surrounding privacy of the wearable technology, although he has talked up the benefits of his employer’s most controversial toy before.

“I know there has been a lot of debate and discussion around Google Glass and privacy and all that,” he said, before proselytising on the importance of the technology.

“It is a chance to experiment with what happens when you allow computers to become part of your sensory environment.

“It can apply all of the computing power and horsepower of the Internet in order to help you understand and make use of information in context.”

He gave the example of a German speaking to a deaf sign language speaker, claiming Google Glass could translate for the latter and present it in text. Glass could also translate sign language and then use the bone conduction technology to read it to the German, Cerf added.

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