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101 Ways to Save the Internet
By Paul Boutin

Where's a superhero when you need one? The Net, which once seemed so invincible,
is under attack by the forces of evil. Viruses knock servers to their knees.
Spammers hijack our inboxes. Hackers and identity thieves menace our collective
security and personal privacy.

Desperate solutions range from abandoning email to requiring a license to log
on. Halt, fools! The Internet's problems stem from the same virtues that make
it great: open architecture, the free flow of information, peer-to-peer
cooperation, and a bias for linking strangers, not disconnecting them. Take
those away and the Net might cease to infuriate us - but it will also cease to
amaze us.

Here's a smarter approach: 101 proposals that harness the Net's own superpowers
to defeat its foes. Up, up, and away!

1 Unleash vigilante justice on spammers. One activist has proposed filters that
launch distributed denial-of-service attacks back at spammers. Great. Just make
sure we have the right addresses first.

2 Slash song prices charge 29 cents per download. You''ll make it up in volume.

3 Quit already, Jack Valenti

4 Appoint Larry Lessig to the Supreme Court. Is he a Democrat or a Republican? Who
cares! Laws governing information flow are the new affirmative action, abortion,
and gun control rolled into one.

5 Create the all-in-one inbox. Email, phone calls, instant messages - they should
all go into a single app.

6 Triple our cable modem speed. First step: Just turn off the Golf Channel and

7 Demand truth in advertising for software updates. C'mon, AOL 9.0 is really AOL
8.0 with the version number increased 1.0.

8 Declare spammers are terrorists. And put Ashcroft, Ridge, and Rumsfeld on their

9 Hands off Internet phone calls. Just because the creaky old phone system was
regulated to death doesn't mean VoIP should suffer the same fate.

10 Free the handsets. We should be able to buy any cell phone and match it with
any service plan.

11 Larry Flynt, build a porn browser. It should cover our tracks coming and going.

12 Make email addresses portable

13 Don't let the Pentagon hog the airwaves. The DOD doesn't need that many
civilian-free radio frequencies to do its job.

14 Dump the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

15 Stop the US Patent Office before they patent the hyperlink Oops, too late.

16 Simplify Web publishing. Why can't we post files from our desktop to a Web site
in one drag-and-drop move?

17 Let a thousand Wi-Fis bloom. Open spectrum is the new open source.

18 Build a .sex red-light district. Icann, the committee that assigns top-level
Internet domains, refuses to create an adult zone that can easily be kept from
kids' eyes. Porn won't disappear, so deal with it.

19 Make privacy a personal asset. Canada has it already: a law that prevents firms
from consolidating all customer information after a merger.

20 Roll out GAAP for geeks. Just as with accounting, create an industry standard
for network security. Don't forget the penalties for companies that don't comply.

21 Bring on the perp walks. We want to see the next CEO whose company's servers
leak 10,000 credit card numbers marched past TV cameras by the FBI.

22 Take back UHF. We're tired of running our wireless network on the same
frequency as the microwave, the cell phone, and the neighbor's baby monitor.
Channel 83 is just sitting there.

23 Offer real RIAA amnesty. Instead of telling us to delete MP3s or pay a fine,
how about you let us pay a fair price to keep them.

24 Release Episode III on the Net. It's going straight to video anyway.

25 Pass a White Hat Protection Act. Hackers who find holes in corporate networks
should get thanks, not handcuffs.

ANTISPAM TOOLBOX. None of these is a magic bullet. But together, they can force
junk mail down to levels we can all live with. Items 26-33

26 Pass the Do Not Spam list. Chuck Schumer's Senate bill sticks American inbox
bombers with steep fines and creates a special circle in hell for those who send porn
to tots. It's not 100 percent enforceable, but neither is the speed limit on
Interstate 80.

27 Automate the FTC. Replace the Federal Trade Commission's manual email address
for reporting spam ( with a nationwide collaborative filtering
service like Cloudmark's SpamNet.

28 Simplify disposable addresses

29 Stop email forgery. A geeky feature called Reverse MX makes it impossible to
masquerade as

30 Scramble archived addresses. Online archives of mailing lists are a treasure
trove for spammers. Give members the option to have their addresses scrambled in

31 Enable digital signatures. Crypto certificates are the most reliable way to tell
email friend from faux. ISPs and corporate IT guys should pass them out as a
competitive advantage.

32 Build friend-of-a-friend filters. Think of it as Friendster for your inbox.
Everyone on our list can email everyone on yours, but outsiders have to fill out
those annoying SpamCop forms.

33 Create a P2P email program. We directly trade MP3 files, instant messages, and
now phone calls without the bother of backend servers. So why not email messages?

34 Spyware vs. Spyware. Counterspyware shouldn't just find spyware installed on
our computers. It should hunt down the punk who put it there.

35 Link Moviefone and Fandango. Cut a deal so we don't have to search both your
sites for theaters.

36 Allow Wi-Fi roaming. The Cloud and Boingo share their hot spots - now how about
T-Mobile, Verizon, et al.?

37 End broadband monopolies. You can't get DSL without first signing up with the
local phone bureaucracy for a line you won't use. This is deregulation?

38 Simplify URLs Why can't
/0375502904/qid=1068751824/sr=12-8/103-2810600-6302246?v=glance&s=books be

39 Upgrade to IPv6. The next-gen Internet protocol will improve security and add
340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,427,473,244,160 IP addresses - enough for
everything, ever.

40 Big music, follow the money. 8 of 9 adults beyond student age still pay for
songs instead of ripping them.

41 Free the archives. Require that copyright owners reregister works after 50
years and put everything else up for grabs. The Magic Kingdom gets to keep
Mickey Mouse, while archivists can digitize deteriorating unclaimed films
without fear of lawsuits.

42 Replace servers with P2P. Too many network services - domain names, Web
servers, email - rely on the old client-server model, which is vulnerable to

43 Unleash Jeff Bezos, rock star. C'mon, Jeff, you can build a better music
store than the dude in the black turtleneck or Mr. Bill.

44 Publish Creative Commons for Dummies. The open copyright licensing system
is pure genius. But you need to be a genius to use it.

45 VeriSign must die

46 Free the Beeb. The BBC is dragging its feet on a plan to put its vast archives
online. Come on, chaps, it's your best idea since Monty Python.

47 Upgrade phone booths to Wi-Fi

48 Free Rob Glaser! The barrage of pop-ups that clutter the screen when we try
to use RealOne can only be a cry for help: Geek guru Glaser is being held
hostage by his own marketing department!

49 Mesh networks everywhere. If wireless signals could hop from gadget to gadget,
we wouldn't have to hunt for hot spots.

50 Add a broadband department to Wal-Mart. You've put every local hardware store
out of business. How about the cable guy and the phone company next?

51 And while you're at it. Bundle a combo PC, DSL-cable modem, and wireless home
router for, oh, $299.99.

Microsoft To-Do List. Here are a few suggestions that don't require breaking up
the company or shipping Linux. Items 52-64

52 Hey Steve, fire someone. Somebody's not living up to the company's tough talk
on fixing bugs. Developers, developers, developers should be accountable,
accountable, accountable.

53 Give away a good spam filter

54 Ship antivirus wizard. Why can't the paper clip guy tell us something
important, like "This message is infected with Sobig"?

55 Block self-installing adware for good

56 Enable automatic file encryption. We've heard the promises for years. But even
Apple offers this already - what's the holdup?

57 Filter fake error messages. Those ads that pose as Windows error messages
("Your computer may be infected! Download fix?") should appear in front of your
lawyers, not us.

58 Take the blame. Software license agreements that absolve you of, oh, deleting
three years' worth of email are irresponsible. Bugs are negligence, and
negligence should cost you, not us.

59 Make anonymous Net use easier

60 Make networked home PCs back each other up

61 Create a security advisory board. Appoint some outsiders (hello, Dan Geer?) to
decide which security upgrades should be auto-pushed to consumers' PCs - then
make it happen.

62 Add a low-bandwidth mode to Internet Explorer

63 Offer more language translation. We want to read those Iranian blogs.

64 Simplify for security. Fewer features means fewer bugs.

65 Establish an ID theft hotline. Having your identity stolen is a nightmare,
especially the paperwork. Wells Fargo has proposed a one-call service. By
sharing and analyzing data, financial services companies could then sort
criminals from customers.

66 Shut down pedophile chat rooms. Its just a bunch of undercover FBI guys in
there anyway.

67 End phone subsidies. A byzantine maze of hidden revenue transfers - universal
service, excise tax, TTY/TDD access, 911, et cetera - discourages innovations
like Vonage that don't fit the regulatory format. Pay for all this stuff from
general taxes instead of sneaking it onto the phone bill.

68 Write to President Schwarzenegger. When he gets to Washington in, oh, 2012,
maybe he can terminate the legislation that mandates insane fixes for digital

69 Restore due process for ISPs. Reverse the legal precedent that requires
providers to hand over their customers' names under subpoena - at least until
they stop handing over the wrong names.

70 Keep blogging, Howard Dean

71 Add a recall function for email messages. Outlook (with Microsoft Exchange
Server) does it, why can't everyone else?

72 Install the Slammer Panic button. Give operators at top traffic hubs the
right to instantly block malicious packets worldwide instead of paging one
another - an attack on one is an attack on all.

Google To-Do List. We love you Larry and Sergey, butů Items 73-78

73 Add a search for legal music downloads

74 Crawl the Internet Archive

75 Let us link to a page we hate without boosting its ranking

76 Add mobile numbers to the phone book

77 Create an email address directory

78 Give us a filter option for blogs

APPLE TO-DO LIST. We've heard the rumors. Now make them true. Items 79-83

79 iPhone

80 Finding Nemo browser for kids

81 iDVR

82 Safari for Windows

83 iPod for movies

84 Leave all the old eBay auctions online, Meg. Imagine the outrage if the NYSE
threw that kind of market data away.

85 Archive the Net. Brewster Kahle can't do it all by himself.

86 Take over the MPAA, Keanu. Only the One can end the war between fans and the
movie industry machine.

Your To-Do List. Surf globally, act locally. There are some things you'll just
have to do yourself: Items 87-95

87 Switch your ISP. Some offer anti-spam and anti-virus tools and support. If
your current provider won't help you defend yourself, find another that will.

88 Change your screen name. Is your screen name the same as your email address?
Are you getting spam? Duh.

89 Demand privacy reports. Push companies to reveal the info they have on you
and with whom it has been shared - the privacy version of a credit report.

90 Death to fax machines. Send us an attachment instead.

91 Stop with the jokes. If we get the one about French military victories one
more time, we're going to come over and unplug you personally.

92 Turn off your HTML email. It makes you vulnerable to viruses - and bugs us.

93 Don't open it. When you get a suspicious-looking email attachment, resist the
urge to click.

94 Tell Kelly on Geocities to take down her Macarena tribute page. It's over, Kel.

95 Protect yourself, dumbass. Download security and virus patches at

96 Blanket airports with Wi-Fi. There are more Centrino ads than hot spots. How
about covering check-in lines, gates, baggage claim, and the restrooms.

97 Celebrate diversity. With nearly every computer on the planet running Windows,
Outlook, and Explorer, it's too easy for a single virus to spread everywhere.

98 Add a "Skip All Flash Intros" option to Macromedia players

99 Hire Tom Ford to design Dells. Just look what he did for Gucci.

100 Dear Mr. President, whatever you're doing to make cybersecurity czars quit,
stop it

101 Madonna, the EFF needs you. Your "Hollywood" video ripping off, er, paying
tribute to photographer Guy Bourdin is the boldest argument for fair use since

Special thanks: Rand Wacker, Kevin Werbach, Bruce Schneier, Hal Varian, Scott
Rafer, Dave Winer

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