With the recent unveiling of the newest Internet protocol system, trillions upon trillions of devices are being paved access to the Internet for the unforeseeable future. And right on cue, the FBI is already up in arms over IPv6.
With computing devices around the globe already switching from the current Internet protocol system, IPv4, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation is predictably picking a fight with the biggest names in cyberspace to ensure that the FBI and other agencies across North America will be able to inch themselves into the personal Web surfing habits of citizens across the world. Now requests from the FBI to ready a system to easily snoop through Internet traffic has proponents of IPv6 and industry reps alike scrambling to make sense of the feds’ demands.
Under the original and quickly antiquating Internet protocol system, IPv4, only 4.3 billion computers, modems, smart phones and other wired devices can send and receive information through cyberspace. When the latest rollover to IPv6 is complete, however, 340 undecillion addresses (that’s a lot) will be able to be assigned. On the plus side, trillions of more devices will able to be delivered information over the Internet. The FBI, however, wants to make sure that they can still catch cyber criminals and suggest that they might have to insist that the private sector aids them in their future endeavors.
According to report filed this week by Cnet’s Declan McCullagh, the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officials have jointly asked Internet representatives that traceability features be enabled with IPv6 that will allow federal agents to identify suspected cybercriminals with the same kind of ease evident with IPv4. Given that the government is already having trouble trying to find alleged cyberterrorists over the Internet as is, though, they might seriously have their work cut out for them. That’s where McCullagh reports, “The FBI has even suggested that a new law may be necessary if the private sector doesn't do enough voluntarily.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official with the FBI clues Cnet in on just why the agency is against the next-generation Internet protocol:
“An issue may also arise around the amount of registration information that is maintained by providers and the amount of historical logging that exists. Today there are complete registries of what IPv4 addresses are ‘owned’ by an operator. Depending on how the IPv6 system is rolled out, that registry may or may not be sufficient for law enforcement to identify what device is accessing the Internet.”
If hunting for cybercriminals is comparable to searching for a needle in a haystack under IPv4, with IPv6 it will be on par with scouring the stratosphere for a single molecule of oxygen.
John Curran of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) tells Cnet, "We're looking at a problem that's about to occur," and adds that, “as service providers start to roll out V6,” that’s exactly what they’ll receive. The answer, according to the FBI, might be a whole new set of legislation that will let them scour cyberspace for the answers for federal inquiries into alleged Internet crimes.
"We're hoping through all of this you can come up with some self-regulatory method in which you can do it," FBI supervisory special agent Bobby Flaim said at an ARIN meeting earlier this year, reports Cnet . "Because otherwise, there will be other things that people are going to consider."