Over the last few years, it has become increasingly clear that protocols are sites of political power. Following the intervention of Snowden at the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) in 2015 and the call by Tim Berners-Lee for a ‘magna carta’ for the Web, engineers at the IETF have been considering creating ‘human rights’ reviews of new standard protocols. From the controversy around DRM at the W3C to the current debate on TLS 1.3 on the ability to explicitly allow decryption to plaintext, political battles over the priority of the rights of end-users in standard bodies have become more widespread. Progress is being made: The IETF has endorsed via their research branch, the Internet Research Task Force, to create a new Human Rights Protocol Considerations (HRPC) to systematize the relationship between human rights and protocols, to eventually ensure that new protocols at the IETF are compatible with basic rights as explored in RFC 8280. On the other hand, although public awareness of these issues has grown, attempts to ‘crowd-source’ popular involvement in changing laws to preserve fundamental rights at the Internet has largely been unsuccessful.
Held in conjunction with IETF 101 in London, this seminar will briefly overview the main political issues facing current protocols at the IETF and the technical issues facing HRPC. Then we will have an open discuss in detail over the drafts of current documents and what can be done in terms of both current and future relevant work in computer science on privacy, encryption, and decentralization.
We hope researchers at UCL can attend, as well as members of the HRPC and relevant IETF Working Groups.