PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility

PFIR Conference Announcement:
"Preventing the Internet Meltdown"
Monday, July 26 through Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Furama Hotel
Los Angeles, California, USA

This document is
It was last updated on July 23, 2004.

PFIR Home Page

People For Internet Responsibility (PFIR) is pleased to announce an "emergency" conference aimed at preventing the "meltdown" of the Internet -- the risks of imminent disruption, degradation, unfair manipulation, and other negative impacts on critical Internet services and systems in ways that will have a profound impact on the Net and its users around the world.

The dates for this conference are Monday through Wednesday, July 26 through 28, 2004 -- with all sessions and working groups at the Furama Hotel Los Angeles, just five minutes north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Go to Registration, Hotel, and Schedule Information

A continuing and rapidly escalating series of alarming events suggest that immediate cooperative, specific planning is necessary if we are to have any chance of avoiding the meltdown. "Red flag" warning signs are many. A merely partial list includes attempts to manipulate key network infrastructures such as the domain name system; lawsuits over Internet regulatory issues (e.g. VeriSign and domain registrars vs. ICANN); serious issues of privacy and security; and ever-increasing spam, virus, and related problems, along with largely ad hoc or non-coordinated "anti-spam" systems that may do more harm than good and may cause serious collateral damage.

All facets of Internet users and a vast range of critical applications are at risk from the meltdown. Commercial firms, schools, nonprofit and governmental organizations, home users, and everybody else around the world whose lives are touched in some way by the Internet (and that's practically everyone) are likely to be seriously and negatively impacted.

Most of these problems are either directly or indirectly the result of the Internet's lack of responsible and fair planning related to Internet operations and oversight. A perceived historical desire for a "hands off" attitude regarding Internet "governance" has now resulted not only in commercial abuses, and the specter of lawsuits and courts dictating key technical issues relating to the Net, but has also invited unilateral actions by organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that could profoundly affect the Internet and its users in unpredictable ways.

Representatives from commercial firms, educational institutions, governmental entities, nonprofit and other organizations, and any other interested parties are invited to participate at this conference. International participation is most definitely encouraged.

PFIR Internet "Meltdown" Conference Schedule
(Subject to elaboration, additions, and other changes)


Internet Governance, Control, and Coordination
(8:30 am to 10:15 am) & (10:45 am to 12:30 pm)

- PFIR: Welcome and Overview
- Scott Bradner (Harvard University): Internet Governance Issues
- Frannie Wellings (EPIC and Public Voice): WSIS
- Richard Hill (ITU): Discussions of Internet Governance
- Susan P. Crawford (Cardozo School of Law): The Accountable Net Concept
- Karl Auerbach: Beyond ICANN and DNS (InterWorking Labs)
- Howard Schmidt (eBay; Former White House Deputy Cybersecurity Czar): Cybersecurity
- Maria Shkarlat (InterNews/Ukraine): Threats to Internet Viability in the Former Soviet Union

(Session continues into afternoon)


Internet Governance, Control, and Coordination (continued)
(1:45 pm to 3:00 pm)

(Continuation from morning)

Attacks on Users and Networks: Policies and Defenses
(3:30 pm to 5:15 pm)

- Spam, Viruses, Spyware, Abuses, E-Mail
- Surveillance, Tracking, Anonymity, Security, Privacy, etc.
- Cybersecurity Issues

            - Brian Reid (ISC)
            - Brad Templeton (EFF)
            - Brett Glass (Lariat.Net)
            - Jim Horning (McAfee Research)
            - Lauren Weinstein (PFIR)
            - Howard Schmidt (eBay)


Social-Technological and Legal Issues
(8:30 am to 10:15 am)

- Intellectual Property Issues
       - Lawyers, Lawsuits, Courts (Domestic and International), Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks
       - The "Induce" Act and other Laws and Issues related to P2P and File Sharing in General
       - Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Issues
       - Surveillance, Security, Encryption, etc.
       - Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Piracy (Issues involving RIAA, MPAA, etc.)
       - Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Issues
       - Protecting the Public Domain

            - Ed Felten (Princeton University)
            - Michael Froomkin (University of Miami School of Law)
            - Wendy Seltzer (EFF)
            - Carrie Lowe (ALA)
            - Thane Tierney (Universal Music Group)

Social-Technological and Legal Issues (continued)
(10:45 am to 12:30 pm)

- Businesses, Governments, and the People
        - Patriot Act, Homeland Security, Crime and Terrorism Concerns, etc. (Impacts)
        - WHOIS Issues (Access, Control, Accuracy, Anonymity, Uses, Abuses, etc.)

            - Scott Bradner (Harvard University)
            - Frannie Wellings (EPIC)
            - Lauren Weinstein (PFIR)
            - Brad Templeton (EFF)


Governmental Policies, Institutional Regulations, etc.
(1:45 pm to 3:15 pm)

- Telephony/VoIP Policy Issues
        - Roles of Telcos, Economics, Regulation
        - Privacy, Wiretaps, Intercepts, Surveillance

            - John Morris (CDT)
            - Dave Farber (CMU)
            - Lauren Weinstein (PFIR)

Governmental Policies, Institutional Regulations, etc. (continued)
(3:45 pm to 5:30 pm)

- ISP Issues and Concerns, etc.
- Other Topics

        - Brett Glass (Lariat.Net)
        - Richard Gingras (Goodmail Systems)
        - Peter G. Neumann (PFIR)
        - And a Host of Others!

(8:45 am to 10:15 am) & (10:45 am to 1:00 pm)

Final Roundtable Sessions

- Preventing the Internet Meltdown:
       - Alternative Remedial Strategies and Plans
       - Pros and Cons of Various Approaches
       - Identify Needs for Policy, Outreach, R&D, and Other Initiatives
- Worst-case Scenarios
- Practical Plans to Bypass and Otherwise Deal With the Meltdown if Prevention Fails

The ultimate goal of the conference is to establish a set of specific actions and contingency plans for the Internet-related problems that could lead to the meltdown. These may include (but are not limited to) technical, governance, regulatory, political, and legal actions and plans. Scenarios to consider may also include more "radical" technical approaches such as "alternate root" domain systems, technologies to bypass unreasonable ISP restrictions, and a wide range of other practical possibilities.

The conference includes a variety of panels focused on illuminating specific aspects of these problems, along with potential reactions, solutions, and contingency planning for worst-case scenarios. Formal papers are not required, but panel members may be asked to submit brief abstracts of prepared remarks in advance to assist in organizing the sessions.

Please see additional details and contact information at:
Registration, Hotel, and Schedule Information

You may also e-mail questions or requests for additonal information to:

Together, we may be able to stop the Internet meltdown. But we need to act now.

Thank you for your consideration.

- - - - -

Lauren Weinstein or
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility -
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet
     Cooperation and Analysis -
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum -
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Peter G. Neumann or or
Tel: +1 (650) 859-2375
Principal Scientist, SRI International Computer Science Lab -
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility -
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet
     Cooperation and Analysis -
Moderator, ACM RISKS Forum -
Chairman, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

David J. Farber
Tel: +1 (412) 726-9889
Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy,
     Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science
Member of the Board of Trustees EFF -
Member of the Advisory Board -- EPIC -
Member of the Advisory Board -- CDT -
Member of Board of Directors -- PFIR -
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet
     Cooperation and Analysis -
Member of the Executive Committee USACM

(Affiliations shown for identification only.)

Our Proud Sponsor