The Design of the Internet’s Architecture by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Human Rights
- 652 Downloads
The debate on whether and how the Internet can protect and foster human rights has become a defining issue of our time. This debate often focuses on Internet governance from a regulatory perspective, underestimating the influence and power of the governance of the Internet’s architecture. The technical decisions made by Internet Standard Developing Organisations (SDOs) that build and maintain the technical infrastructure of the Internet influences how information flows. They rearrange the shape of the technically mediated public sphere, including which rights it protects and which practices it enables. In this article, we contribute to the debate on SDOs’ ethical responsibility to bring their work in line with human rights. We defend three theses. First, SDOs’ work is inherently political. Second, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), one of the most influential SDOs, has a moral obligation to ensure its work is coherent with, and fosters, human rights. Third, the IETF should enable the actualisation of human rights through the protocols and standards it designs by implementing a responsibility-by-design approach to engineering. We conclude by presenting some initial recommendations on how to ensure that work carried out by the IETF may enable human rights.
KeywordsHuman rights Information ethics Internet architecture Internet Engineering Task Force Internet governance Responsibility-by-design Standard Developing Organisations Protocols Right to freedom of expression Privacy Standards Values-by-design
We discussed multiple versions of this article on many occasions during academic conferences, IETF meetings, and with policy makers in the field of Internet governance. Specifically, the first author discussed some of the ideas included in this article at RIPE 70 in Amsterdam May 2015, IETF 94 in Yokohama November 2015, Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) in Brussels January 2016, and IETF 95 in Buenos Aires April 2016. We are deeply indebted for the feedback we received from these various communities and audiences. In particular, we wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the final version. We also want to thank Niels Ten Oever and the Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research (HRPC) group at the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) for their insightful comments and for the time they put into discussing the ideas presented in this article. We are grateful to David Sutcliffe for his editorial revisions of the penultimate version.
- Abbate, J. (2000). Inventing the internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Babbie, E. (2010). The basics of social research. Belmont, CA: Cengage.Google Scholar
- Baran, P. (1964). On distributed communications: Twelve volumes. Washington, D.C.: RAND Report Series.Google Scholar
- Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Berkman Center Report. (2016). Don’t panic: Making progress on the “going dark” debate. Retrieved February 2, 2016, https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/dont-panic/Dont_Panic_Making_Progress_on_Going_Dark_Debate.pdf.
- Blee, K., & Taylor, V. (2002). Semi-structured interviewing in social movement research. In B. Klandermans & S. Staggenborg (Eds.), Methods of social movement research (pp. 92–117). Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Bless, R., & Orwat, K. (2016). Values and networks—Steps toward exploring their relationships. ACM: Sigcomm. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.sigcomm.org/ccr/papers/2016/April/0000000.0000003.
- Bray, T. (2012). ID 2616 a new HTTP status code for legally-restricted resources draft-tbray-http-legally-restricted-status-00. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-tbray-http-legally-restricted-status-00
- Broeders, D. (2015). The public core of the internet. Amsterdam: University Amsterdam Press.Google Scholar
- Brown, I., Clark, D., & Trossen, D. (2010). Should specific values be embedded in the Internet architecture? Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://conferences.sigcomm.org/co-next/2010/Workshops/REARCH/ReArch_papers/10-Brown.pdf.
- Brysk, A. (2002). Human rights and globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Busch, L. (2011). Standards: Recipes for realities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Cavoukian, A. (2009). Privacy by design. Ottawa: IPC Publications.Google Scholar
- Clark, D. (1988). The design philosophy of the DARPA Internet protocols. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://ccr.sigcomm.org/archive/1995/jan95/ccr-9501-clark.pdf.
- Creswell, J. W. (2013). Five qualitative approaches to inquiry. In J. W. Creswell (Ed.), Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (Vol. 3, pp. 53–84). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Davidson, A., & Morris, J. (2003). Policy impact assessments: Considering the public interest in Internet standards development. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from https://www.cdt.org/files/publications/pia.pdf.
- Demmers, J. (2012). Theories of violent conflict: An introduction. NYC: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Denardis, L. (2013). Protocol politics: The globalization of Internet governance. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Denardis, L. (2015). The Internet design tension between surveillance and security. Retrieved 3 March, 2015 from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?reload=true&arnumber=7116471.
- Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Doty, N. (2015). Reviewing for privacy in Internet and Web standard-setting. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from https://npdoty.name/slides/nickdoty_reviewing-for-privacy.pdf.
- Dutton, W. (2011). Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: The changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the internet. UNESCO. Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31397&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.
- Franklin, U. M. (1999). The real world of technology. Toronto: Toronto University Press.Google Scholar
- Galloway, A. (2004). Protocol. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Harvey, W. (2011). Strategies for conducting elite interviews. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/William_Harvey6/publication/228312871_Strategies_for_Conducting_Elite_Interviews/links/543fc38f0cf2fd72f99da47b.pdf.
- Hill, J. F. (2013). A balkanized Internet? The uncertain future of global Internet standards. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://journal.georgetown.edu/a-balkanized-internet-the-uncertain-future-of-global-internet-standards-by-jonah-force-hill/.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (1996). RFC 1958 architectural principles of the Internet. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1958.txt.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (1997). RFC 2119 key words for use in RFCs to indicate requirement levels. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (1998). RFC 2418 security considerations. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2418#page-23.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (2002). RFC 3426 general architectural and policy considerations. Retrieved February 17, 2015 from http://www.rfc-base.org/rfc-3426.html.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (2003). RFC 3552 guidelines for writing RFC text on security considerations. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3552.txt.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (2004). RFC 3935 a mission statement for the IETF. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3935.txt.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (2013). RFC 6973 privacy considerations. Retrieved July 5, 2015, from https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc6973.txt.
- Internet Engineering Task Force. (2014). RFC 7258 pervasive monitoring is an attack. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7258.
- Jabri, V. (1996). Discourses on violence: Conflict analysis reconsidered. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
- Kurose, J., & Ross, K. W. (2007). Computer networking: A top-down approach (4th ed.). Boston: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Lessig, L. (2006). Code: And other laws of cyberspace, version 2.0. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Liddicoat, J., & Doria, A. (2012). Human rights and Internet protocols: Comparing processes and principles. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from https://www.unesco-ci.org/cmscore/sites/default/files/2013wsis10/human_rights_and_internet_protocols-_comparing_processes_and_principles28129.pdf.
- Mueller, M. (2004). Ruling the root: Internet governance and the taming of cyberspace. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Post, D. (2015). Internet infrastructure and IP censorship. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from http://www.ipjustice.org/digital-rights/internet-infrastructure-and-ip-censorship-by-david-post/.
- Rabkin, A., Doty, N. & Mulligan, D. K. (2010). Facilitate, don’t man-date. Retrieved January 1, 2016 from http://www.iab.org/wp-content/IAB-uploads/2011/03/nickdoty.pdf.
- Rachovitsa, A. (2015). Engineering “privacy by design” in the Internet protocols: Understanding online privacy both as a technical and a human rights issue in the face of pervasive monitoring. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/hrpc/current/pdfRBnRYFeVsm.pdf.
- Richards, L. (2009). Handling qualitative data: A practical guide. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Richie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Sweet, J., & Schneier, M. (2013). Legal aspects of architecture, engineering and the construction process. Cengage: Stamford.Google Scholar
- Sweet, J., Schneier, M., & Wentz, B. (2015). Construction managers and contractors. Cengage: Stamford.Google Scholar
- Thompson, M. (2013). Evaluating neutrality in the information age: On the value of persons and access. University of Oxford, Oxford. Retrieved March 16, 2015 from http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/?id=86.
- UNESCO. (2015). Connecting the dots: Access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy and ethics on a global Internet. Retrieved July 1, 2015, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002325/232563E.pdf
- UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR). (2011). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf.
- UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR). (2015). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye. Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/CallForSubmission.aspx.
- Winner, L. (1977). Autonomous technology: Technics-out-of-control as a theme in political thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Zittrain, J. (2008). The future of the Internet—And how to stop it. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar