Section: Research Program
Transparency is to provide network users and application developers with reliable information about the current or predicted quality of their communication services, and about potential leakages of personal information, or of other information related to societal interests of the user as a “connected citizen” (e.g. possible violation of network neutrality, opinion manipulation). Service transparency therefore means to provide information meaningful to users and application developers, such as quality of experience, privacy leakages, or opinion manipulation, etc. rather than network-level metrics such as available bandwidth, loss rate, delay or jitter.
The Internet is built around a best effort routing service that does not provide any guarantee to end users in terms of quality of service (QoS). The simplicity of the Internet routing service is at the root of its huge success. Unfortunately, a simple service means unpredicted quality at the access. Even though a considerable effort is done by operators and content providers to optimise the Internet content delivery chain, mainly by over-provisioning and sophisticated engineering techniques, service degradation is still part of the Internet. The proliferation of wireless and mobile access technologies, and the versatile nature of Internet traffic, make end users quality of experience (QoE) forecast even harder. As a matter of fact, the Internet is missing a dedicated measurement plane that informs the end users on the quality they obtain and in case of substantial service degradation, on the origin of this degradation. Current state of the art activities are devoted to building a distributed measurement infrastructure to perform active, passive and hybrid measurements in the wired Internet. However, the problem is exacerbated with modern terminals such as smartphones or tablets that do not facilitate the task for end users (they even make it harder) as they focus on simplifying the interface and limiting the control on the network, whereas the Internet behind is still the same in terms of the quality it provides. Interestingly, this same observation explains the existing difficulty to detect and prevent privacy leaks. We argue that the lack of transparency for diagnosing QoE and for detecting privacy leaks have the same root causes and can be solved using common primitives. For instance, in both cases, it is important to be able to link data packets to an application. Indeed, as the network can only access data packets, there must be a way to bind these packets to an application (to understand users QoE for this application or to associate a privacy leak to an application). This is however a complex task as the traffic might be obfuscated or encrypted. Our objectives in the research direction are the following: