The United States has a long history of relying on the Internet to operate smoothly, but there’s been a long-running debate over whether the infrastructure it relies on is reliable.
The Federal Communications Commission has taken a look at that issue, and is now recommending that all of the major Internet service providers — including Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others — upgrade their networks to more resilient versions of the TCP/IP protocol, or even rewrite the entire architecture altogether.
The FCC report says that for years the Internet has been under-managed, with many services relying on outdated infrastructure, and a lack of security controls.
The agency says in its report that “most Internet service provider customers do not have a well-defined set of security policies that control how their networks are used and managed, or what information is transmitted over them.”
“For the most part, ISPs do not track, monitor, or control the content, traffic, or metadata that their customers send, receive, or store on their networks,” the FCC report said.
“They are not required to track or monitor all the activities that occur on their network.”
The FCC says it’s important that ISPs upgrade their security and manage their networks in order to maintain the Internet’s “unparalleled security and stability.”
“The FCC also urges the Federal Communications Board to explore whether it can take specific action to require the network operators to upgrade their infrastructure, or if they could voluntarily do so,” the agency said.
“In this case, the FCC’s research indicates that this is not possible.
It is important to note that while ISPs could voluntarily implement and improve security controls, the majority of customers do have no assurance that their ISPs are adequately maintaining their networks.”
As of January, the Internet Service Providers Association said it supported the FCC recommendations and that the company’s security practices have been “in place since the beginning.”
“We believe that we are in a position to provide the industry with a robust, effective, and robust security model,” said the group’s CEO, Jon Huntsman.
“It is important that we continue to improve our security practices, but we are committed to being transparent and accountable about them.”
Huntsman said the FCC will not recommend any changes to the industry’s security policies in a report due out in December.