What's wrong with the Internet we have?
Nothing at first glance. In fact, the existing Internet is a tremendous success and has radically transformed our society and the way we live over the past decades. In our opinion, it's certainly not "broken" as some claim. After all, who can imagine life without the Internet these days?
What is true though, is that the Internet was not designed to support 21st century applications. For example, the original designers of the Internet didn't anticipate users wanting to connect "things" to the net that operate within people's physical space, such as delivery drones, swarms of robots, self-driving cars, remotely operated surgical equipment, and connected door locks. Security and stability considerations were not part of the original Internet protocol suite so within today's Internet, such devices introduce risks, because a security incident such as a DDoS attack or a routing hijack may disrupt a thing's network connection and as a result jeopardise people's safety.
Similarly, the original Internet designers couldn't foresee that users would like to get more insight into and control over who receives data about them (e.g. data collected by sensors, websites and apps), and how such data flows through the network. Examples include a connected thermostat that shares temperature (and thus presence) information with remote services, and a medical institution that wants to be able to verify that its medical records only pass through networks that it trusts. Thus more transparency is needed.
The explanation for such shortcomings is that the problem that the Internet is designed to solve has changed over the past fifty years. The problem in the early days (1970s) was how to enable university researchers to share expensive computer hardware via a network, which later evolved into how to make computer networking ubiquitously available for everyone. The Internet has far exceeded expectations in its resolution of both problems, but its success has also introduced new problems, because it isn't designed for newer types of use with new security, stability and transparency requirements.
The research programme: 2STiC
To address those new communication requirements, NLnet Labs, SIDN Labs, SURFnet, TU Delft, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Twente have set up a joint research programme called 2STiC (pronounced "to-stick"), which is short for Security, Stability and Transparency in inter-network Communication.
2STiC's goal is to develop and evaluate mechanisms for increasing the security, stability and transparency of internet communications, for instance by experimenting with and contributing to emerging internet architectures, such as SCION, RINA, and NDN, as well as the existing (IP-based) Internet. The 2STiC partners envisage that such new types of internet will complement and co-exist with the current Internet, serving specific types of application. Our long-term objective is to establish a centre of expertise in the field of trusted and resilient internets and help put the Dutch (and European) networking communities in a leading position in the field.
2STiC follows a hands-on approach based on measurements, running code, a national 2STiC test network, experiments and demos. We will focus on a few specific "vertical" services (e.g. intelligent transport systems or e-health services) to demonstrate the properties of the underlying internets for immediate and real-world problems. We will actively share our work, for instance with the Dutch, European and worldwide academic and operational communities (e.g. through technical reports, papers and open-source software).
2STiC: the long read
We have written a joint blog in which we discuss our plans in more detail, for instance in terms of goals, motivation, timeliness and research topics.