Tango or Square Dance? How Tightly Should we Integrate Network Functionality in Browsers?

A. Davidson, M. Frei, M. Gartner, H. Haddadi, A. Perrig, J. Subirà Nieto, P. Winter, F. Wirz. | Networks

The question at which layer network functionality is presented or abstracted remains a research challenge. Traditionally, network functionality was either placed into the core network, middleboxes, or into the operating system – but recent developments have expanded the design space to directly introduce functionality into the application (and in particular into the browser) as a way to expose it to the user.

Given the context of emerging path-aware networking technology, an interesting question arises: which layer should handle the new features? We argue that the browser is becoming a powerful platform for network innovation, where even user-driven properties can be implemented in an OSagnostic fashion. We demonstrate the feasibility of geo-fenced browsing using a prototype browser extension, realized by the SCION path-aware networking architecture, without introducing any significant performance overheads.

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