Why Elon Musk’s Starlink will be the death of the Internet.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation being constructed by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit, working in combination with ground transceivers to give users access to the Internet, even in areas without the proper infrastructure.
What is the single best quality of the Internet?
The Internet is an open platform that embraces every user’s freedom and innovation without permission or judgement. In this article, I will explain why certain well-known individuals, under an aura of social impact and genius, are indeed about to break the Internet’s fundamental of openness, which has been thus far taken for granted. Solutions to aleviate or avoid such future will also be discussed and proposed.
Sometimes the Internet’s innovations are relatively minor or predictable. But in other instances, both individually and in combination with one another, they can be truly world changing. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced first-hand, not only as a software engineer, but rather as a citizen-of-the-internet, what this freedom entails, and how easily it is for public institutions, regulators or even, given the nature of capitalism, private groups and companies to play with this essential, yet utterly delicate equilibrium. To dive into this very issue at hand, the following question must be answered: How can we establish such equilibrium, specially when dealing with the most international platform of them all, the world-wide Web?
To answer this complex question, let’s dive into how the Internet works under the hood:
First, the layered nature of the Internet describes its overall structural architecture. The use of layering means that functional tasks are divided up and assigned to different architectural layers. The internet layer is a group of internetworking methods, protocols, and specifications in the Internet protocol suite that are used to transport network packets from the originating host across network boundaries; if necessary, to the destination host specified by an IP address. A common design aspect in the internet layer is the robustness principle: “Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send” — as a misbehaving host can deny Internet service to many other users.
Second, the end-to-end design principle describes where applications are implemented on the Internet. The Internet was designed to allow applications to reside essentially at the ‘edges’ of the network, rather than in the core of the network itself. This is precisely the opposite of the traditional telephony and cable networks, where applications and content are implemented in the core, away from the users at the edge.
Third, the design of the Internet Protocol (IP) separates the underlying networks from the services that ride on top of them. IP was designed to be an open standard, so that anyone could use it to create new applications and new networks. The Internet does not need to know what is in the packets to convey them to their destination. The Internet routes data equally, without inherently favouring particular application or content providers over others, and in this way it is not designed for any particular use. As it turns out, IP quickly became the ubiquitous bearer protocol at the centre of the Internet. Thus, using IP, individuals are free to create new and in- novative applications that they know will work on the network in predictable ways. This is one of the most fundamental principles of communication. In order for communication to take place, both parties (in this case, two separate computers, such as the server-client connection of Medium) have to be able to understand each other. Failure to do so will result in these protocols not being able to convey and represent useful information, which ultimately leads to the user not getting the desired result.
From these different yet interrelated design components, one can see the overarching rationale that no central gatekeeper should exert control over the Internet.
So… when and how exactly did Elon Musk go off the rails, or, in this case, the orbit?
I consider myself very fortunate to be pioneering the tech disruption of the cybersecurity industry, along with a very talented team at Oxyde Technologies, which is heavily devoted to breaking the Internet’s infrastructure in order to secure it right after, a technique known as white-hat hacking.
It is for this reason that, whilst being completely aware of the Internet’s limitations, I am convinced that there will always be a work-around to secure its architecture, without entirely changing the way computers communicate with each other, and hence endangering its fundamental openness and freedom within.
Therefore, I cannot stress enough that Starlink’s plan to fundamentally change the programming of the Internet protocols used to transmit information between each node (or satellite in orbit), whether it is for security, privacy, political or personal purposes, will culminate in the death of the open and neutral Internet that the Earth once had and loved. Oxyde’s Technology vision is, and will always be, to secure the open Internet, by giving back to the Internet everything it has given us (excluding viruses and attacks, of course 😇)
Let’s just hope that, when it rains, no satellites pour. At the end, not even Musk will be able to face the music in the quiet vacuum of space. To avoid such, the Internet must take advantage of its biggest strength: its world-wide community of users, many of which recognise the value of freedom and open-source, which must direct its future, instead of multi-billion dollar corporations.