- Much of our data traffic passes through America and Asia, and their legislation is very different from ours.
- A new internet is needed to provide complete security for data traffic.
As Ursula von der Leyen pointed out to the European Parliament in September, digital developments in Europe are crucial for our future. The growth of the economy and developments in society, including those concerning sustainability and health, go hand in hand with digital services and connections. Digitisation is the foundation of our well-being and employment in Europe.
The internet currently has a lot of flaws, according to Jeroen van de Lagemaat and many other specialists. The main problems concern quality and security. Jeroen: “One of the characteristics of today’s internet is that it determines, on its own, which route information travels between sender and receiver. The user does not influence this. It depends on the amount of traffic on different routes. As a result, it is never certain how long it will take, and travel time varies continuously. This is unacceptable for applications such as autonomous driving, but also for remote surgeries.”
“One of the important factors concerning security is that much internet traffic passes through America or Asia, even if both sender and receiver are European. Those countries are doing everything they can to keep it that way. But what happens along the way? Who is watching? Legislation in the US and Asia is very extreme in that regard. Add to this that methods of making information unreadable to third parties (encryption, such as with a VPN) are also unsafe. Such applications often have so-called backdoors that give third parties unseen access to the information, and the encryption of the data itself is regularly hacked. This recently happened at the largest hospital in Düsseldorf. In other words, sending sensitive information over the internet with a VPN or other encryption is like using an armoured vehicle, but without knowing which route it takes or who has a key.”
“The internet’s purpose is enabling everyone to communicate with each other. But this includes parties that do not always have our best interests at heart. This is why firewalls are used to stop unwanted things. Think of it as a house with a door that is always opened unless we don’t trust something. That is not how it works in my home.”
“A third effect is that, because American companies in particular often closely follow our data, Google often knows that there is a traffic jam somewhere in the Netherlands before the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management does. How did this happen? The internet was never designed to be used in the way we are now. Our intensive use of the internet forces us to revise its design.”
“The security of our data and communication increasingly appears on the government’s agenda, not only in the Netherlands but also in European policies. We are working on a European cloud that must, above all, be secure. Europe is striving for digital sovereignty. All of this is called GAIA-X, after a recently launched German-French initiative. The road towards that cloud must also be secure, of course. We want to be able to communicate in a high-quality and secure way, both to the clouds and with each other.”
“In other words, we need networks where quality and security are paramount. Where we do know what routes are followed. A house where the door is closed and only opens when we can trust it. And, it also has to be as easy and flexible to use as our current internet. The type of network that NDIX has been providing for years is seen as the basis for this within GAIA-X. It fully meets quality and security requirements. Secure connections between parties are only switched on request and only when they all allow this. You will have to ring the doorbell and wait until you are allowed inside, until the door that is normally closed opens.”
“This is the only way in which we can offer both quality and real security. We have already been working at NDIX, and our task is to implement this in the rest of the Netherlands and Europe. We do not have to do this by ourselves: several parties have developed similar networks or are in the process of developing one. We will create a safe and high-quality European network by connecting these networks, and everyone will be able to communicate with each other securely. The success of the internet, focused on the future.”
This is not entirely futuristic, according to Jeroen; it is already being used. “You can see this from the fact that only 20% of the traffic on the NDIX network (with more than 3700 connected companies) is internet communication. The remaining 80% consists almost entirely of secure data traffic between business locations, data centres, clouds and external parties that you work with as a company.”