IPv6 might be good for the Internet, but it’s throwing a wet blanket on law enforcement work, the FBI says.
Internet Protocol version 6, as it’s properly called, is going to save the web from running out of addresses. In the current version, IPv4, we only have 4.3 billion addresses to issue to every web-connected device, including smartphones.
That supply was set to run out, but IPv6 will create a huge number of addresses and stave off disaster for another few years at least (God willin’ and the crick don’t rise).
However, the glut of new addresses poses problems for FBI agents and other law enforcement officials who need to conduct investigations on the web to thwart, say, terrorists and child pornographers.
In fact, an FBI spokesperson told Cnet, IPv6 will likely “have a profound effect on law enforcement,” perhaps requiring some new tools and software for hunting down the baddies out there on the web.
Law enforcement at all levels frequently send requests for information to Internet service providers and web-based companies, but the IPv6 changes will make responding to those requests a longer, more difficult process. ISPs and web services will have to gather and store much more information on individual customers and devices, such as source ports, addresses, and times.
Not only does this require more storage space (ergo more expense) for the ISPs and web companies; it’s also unlikely to sit well with privacy organizations and many consumers.
World IPv6 Day is coming up next week, and IPv6 adoption has been heating up over the past several months. Last November, we reported that IPv6 adoption had skyrocketed by 1,900 percent, largely due to GoDaddy’s efforts.
IPv6 adoption is a key issue for computer networks, but remember, not all computers look like computers these days. The “Internet of Things,” the network of tablets, smart TVs, web-connected refrigerators, talking robot dogs, etc., depends on having enough IP addresses to go around, and it depends on IPv6 to become a reality.