This year’s Domain pulse conference brought together Internet experts and opinion leaders to discuss the topics of online surveillance, security and governance. Switzerland is playing a pioneering role with its secure .ch domain and legislation on dealing with malware.
More than 200 Internet experts and opinion leaders met at Domain pulse in Lausanne on 1 and 2 February 2016. “Data are the new oil. If we’re the source of this new oil, how come we aren’t the new oil sheikhs?” asked journalist Hannes Grassegger in his opening speech. He sees people increasingly becoming “digital serfs” who surrender personal rights every time they accept a website’s terms and conditions and called for a reversal of power: “We need to encrypt our personal data and only give them to people who agree to use them on our terms.”
The greatest risk of all: surfing the Web
Security expert Mikko Hyppönen believes that Internet surfing is the greatest of all online security risks and was full of praise for Switzerland’s approach to combating malware: “Switzerland is a country with a law under which websites can be taken offline if they’re spreading malware.” This is proving very effective, said Hyppönen. He, too, sees data as a form of currency: “There’s no such thing as a free search engine or free cloud storage. We pay for these services with our own data.”
Data surveillance: balancing security with freedom
Participants in the panel discussion on online surveillance put forward their views regarding the opposing interests of freedom and security. Here are a few highlights: Thomas Hansjakob, Senior Attorney of the Canton of St. Gallen, wants the power to monitor new forms of communication like Skype and WhatsApp, while Walter Hediger of the Swiss Telecommunications Association (asut) would like to see legislation that precisely defines the duties of all parties in this area. Balthasar Glättli, National Councillor for the Green Party of Switzerland, is clearly opposed to the mass storage of data by authorities and wants criminal prosecution and intelligence services to be segregated.
.ch domain in sound health
“Within Europe, .ch and .li are the most secure domains,” said SWITCH security expert Serge Droz. Misuse of domains to spread malware via Swiss websites has fallen sharply, and the number of phishing cases has not risen further, in contrast to other domain endings. The secret of this success lies in Switzerland’s unique process for dealing with malware and phishing and SWITCH’s cooperation with the Federal Office of Communications, registrars, hosting providers and domain holders. “The domain endings .ch and .li are so secure because we all pull together,” said Droz.
Added value with .swiss
The domain ending .swiss adds value for organisations as a mark of quality and nationality. For Philipp Metzger and Stéphane Bondallaz of the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) it is clear: .swiss can be thought of as a “made in Switzerland” label for websites. Applications to register .swiss domain names are only granted if the applicant appears in the Swiss Commercial Register and has a sufficient link to Switzerland.
The Internet governance macrocosm: joining forces against the fragmentation of the Internet
In a panel discussion, representatives of the Internet community praised cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil society, which has proven itself to be the most stable model for Internet governance. However, it was noted that national interests and legislation could lead to a fragmentation of the Internet. All agreed that this must be prevented.
About Domain pulse
Domain pulse is an annual conference of domain experts and the leading event for topics relating to domain names in the German-speaking region. Organised jointly by the registries in Germany (Denic), Austria (nic.at) and Switzerland (SWITCH), it brings together Internet specialists from all three countries and further afield. It offers an ideal platform for them to keep up to date with social, political and economic developments in the world of domain names. SWITCH, as the registry for .ch, hosted Domain pulse 2016 in Lausanne.