< draft-irtf-hrpc-political-01.txt   draft-irtf-hrpc-political-02.txt >
Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group N. ten Oever Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group N. ten Oever
Internet-Draft University of Amsterdam Internet-Draft University of Amsterdam
Intended status: Informational A. Andersdotter Intended status: Informational May 16, 2019
Expires: August 31, 2019 ARTICLE 19 Expires: November 17, 2019
February 27, 2019
Notes on networking standards and politics Notes on networking standards and politics
draft-irtf-hrpc-political-01 draft-irtf-hrpc-political-02
Abstract Abstract
The IETF cannot ordain which standards or protocols are to be used on The IETF cannot ordain what standards or protocols are to be used on
network, but the standards developing process in the IETF has a networks, but the standards development process in the IETF has a
normative effect. Among other things the standardisation work at the normative effect. Among other things, the IETF's work affects what
IETF has implications on what is perceived as technologically is perceived as technologically possible and useful where networking
possible and useful where networking technologies are being deployed, technologies are being deployed, and its standards reflect what is
and its standards output reflect was is considered by the technical considered by the technical community to be feasible and good
community as feasible and good practice. Because it mediates many practice. Because the IETF's protocols mediate many aspects of
aspects of modern life, and therefore contributes to the ordering of modern life, and therefore contribute to the ordering of societies
societies and communities, the consideration of the politics and and communities, the consideration of the potential social impact of
(potential) impact of protocols should be part of the standardization protocols should be part of the standardization and development
and development process. If the technical community refuses to take process.
up this responsibility, it should accept that others, such as
governments, will take up this role.
Status of This Memo Status of This Memo
This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79. provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.
Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute
working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet- working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-
Drafts is at https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/. Drafts is at https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.
Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
material or to cite them other than as "work in progress." material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."
This Internet-Draft will expire on August 31, 2019. This Internet-Draft will expire on November 17, 2019.
Copyright Notice Copyright Notice
Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved. document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
(https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
publication of this document. Please review these documents publication of this document. Please review these documents
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described in the Simplified BSD License. described in the Simplified BSD License.
Table of Contents Table of Contents
1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2. Vocabulary Used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2. Vocabulary Used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
3. Research Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3. Research Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
4. Technology and Politics: a review of literature and community 4. Technology and Politics: a review of literature and community
positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
4.1. Technology is value neutral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4.1. Technology is value neutral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
4.2. Some protocols are political some times . . . . . . . . . 5 4.2. Some protocols are political sometimes . . . . . . . . . 5
4.3. All protocols are political sometimes . . . . . . . . . . 5 4.3. All protocols are political sometimes . . . . . . . . . . 5
4.4. The network has its own logic and values . . . . . . . . 5 4.4. The network has its own logic and values . . . . . . . . 5
4.5. Protocols are inherently political . . . . . . . . . . . 6 4.5. Protocols are inherently political . . . . . . . . . . . 6
5. IETF: Protocols as Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 5. IETF: Protocols as Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
5.1. Competition and collaboration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 5.1. Competition and collaboration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
5.2. IETF standards setting externalities . . . . . . . . . . 9 5.2. How voluntary are open standards? . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
5.2.1. Finance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 6. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
5.2.2. Interoperability and backward compatability . . . . . 9 7. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
5.2.3. Competition between layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 8. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
5.3. How voluntary are open standards? . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 9. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
6. The need for a positioning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 10. Research Group Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
7. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 11. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
8. The way forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 11.1. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
9. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 11.2. URIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
10. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
11. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
12. Research Group Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
13. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
13.1. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
13.2. URIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
1. Introduction 1. Introduction
"Science and technology lie at the heart of social asymmetry. "Science and technology lie at the heart of social asymmetry.
Thus technology both creates systems which close off other Thus technology both creates systems which close off other
options and generate novel, unpredictable and indeed options and generate novel, unpredictable and indeed
previously unthinkable, option. The game of technology is previously unthinkable, option. The game of technology is
never finished, and its ramifications are endless." never finished, and its ramifications are endless."
- Michel Callon - Michel Callon
"The Internet isn't value-neutral, and neither is the IETF." "The Internet isn't value-neutral, and neither is the IETF."
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never finished, and its ramifications are endless." never finished, and its ramifications are endless."
- Michel Callon - Michel Callon
"The Internet isn't value-neutral, and neither is the IETF." "The Internet isn't value-neutral, and neither is the IETF."
-{{RFC3935}} -{{RFC3935}}
The design of the Internet through protocols and standards is a The design of the Internet through protocols and standards is a
technical issue with great political and economic impacts [RFC0613]. technical issue with great political and economic impacts [RFC0613].
The early Internet community already realized that it needed to make The early Internet community already realized that it needed to make
decisions on political issues such as Intellectual Property, decisions on political issues such as intellectual property;
Internationalization [BramanI], diversity, access [RFC0101] privacy internationalization [BramanI]; diversity; access [RFC0101]; privacy
and security [RFC0049], and the military [RFC0164] [RFC0316], and security [RFC0049]; and the military [RFC0164] [RFC0316],
governmental [RFC0144] [RFC0286] [RFC0313] [RFC0542] [RFC0549] and governmental [RFC0144] [RFC0286] [RFC0313] [RFC0542] [RFC0549] and
non-governmental [RFC0196] uses, which has been clearly pointed out non-governmental [RFC0196] uses of the network. This has been
by Braman [BramanII]. clearly pointed out by Braman [BramanII].
Recently there has been an increased discussion on the relation Recently there has been increased discussion of the relation between
between Internet protocols and human rights [RFC8280] which spurred Internet protocols and human rights [RFC8280], which spurred
the discussion on the the value neutrality and political nature of discussion of the value neutrality and political nature of standards.
standards. The network infrastructure is on the one hand designed, The network infrastructure is on the one hand designed, described,
described, developed, standardized and implemented by the Internet developed, standardized and implemented by the Internet community,
community, but the Internet community and Internet users are also while on the other hand the Internet community and Internet users are
shaped by the affordances of the technology. Companies, citizens, also shaped by the affordances of the technology. Companies,
governments, standards developing bodies, public opinion and public citizens, governments, standards development bodies, public opinion
interest groups all play a part in these discussions. In this and public interest groups all play a part in these discussions. In
document we aim to outline different views on the relation between this document we aim to outline different views on the relation
standards and politics and seek to answer the question whether between standards and politics, and seek to answer the question of
standards are political, and if so, how. whether standards are political, and if so, how.
2. Vocabulary Used 2. Vocabulary Used
Politics (from Greek: Politika: Politika, definition "affairs of the Politics (from Greek: Politika: Politika, definition "affairs of the
commons") is the process of making decisions applying to all commons") is the process of making decisions applying to all
members of a diverse group with conflicting interests. More members of a diverse group with conflicting interests. More
narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of
governance or organized control over a community. Furthermore, governance or organized control over a community. Furthermore,
politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and
resources within a given community as well as the resources within a given community as well as the
interrelationship(s) between communities. (adapted from interrelationship(s) between communities. (adapted from
[HagueHarrop]) [HagueHarrop])
Affordances The possibilities that are provided to an actors through Affordances The possibilities that are provided to an actor through
the ordering of an environment by a technology. the ordering of an environment by a technology.
Protocols 'Protocols are rules governing communication between Protocols 'Protocols are rules governing communication between
devices or applications, and the creation or manipulation of any devices or applications, and the creation or manipulation of any
logical or communicative artifacts concomitant with such logical or communicative artifacts concomitant with such
communication.' [Sisson] communication.' [Sisson]
Standards 'An Internet Standard is a specification that is stable Standards 'An Internet Standard is a specification that is stable
and well-understood, is technically competent, has multiple, and well-understood, is technically competent, has multiple,
independent, and interoperable implementations with substantial independent, and interoperable implementations with substantial
operational experience, enjoys significant public support, and is operational experience, enjoys significant public support, and is
recognizably useful in some or all parts of the Internet.' recognizably useful in some or all parts of the Internet.'
[RFC2026] [RFC2026]
3. Research Question 3. Research Question
Are protocols political? If so, should the politics of protocols Are protocols political? If so, should the politics of protocols be
need to be taken into account in their development process? taken into account in their development process?
4. Technology and Politics: a review of literature and community 4. Technology and Politics: a review of literature and community
positions positions
In 1993 the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility stated In 1993 the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility stated
that 'the Internet should meet public interest objectives', similarly that 'the Internet should meet public interest objectives'.
[RFC3935] states that 'The Internet isn't value-neutral, and neither Similarly, [RFC3935] states that 'The Internet isn't value-neutral,
is the IETF.'. Ethics and the Internet was already a topic of an RFC and neither is the IETF.'. Ethics and the Internet was already a
by the IAB in 1989 [RFC1097]. Nonetheless there has been a recent topic of an RFC by the IAB in 1989 [RFC1097]. Nonetheless there has
uptick in discussions around the impact of Internet protocols on been a recent uptick in discussions within the IETF about the impact
human rights [RFC8280] in the IETF and more general about the impact of Internet protocols on human rights [RFC8280], and more generally
of technology on society in the public debate. in public debate about the impact of technology on society.
This document aims to provide an overview of the spectrum of This document aims to provide an overview of the spectrum of
different positions that have been observed in the IETF and IRTF different positions that have been observed in the IETF and IRTF
community, during participatory observation, through 39 interviews community. These positions were observed during participatory
with members of the community, the Human Rights Protocol observation, through 39 interviews with members of the community, the
Considerations Research Group mailinglist and during and after the Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group mailing list, and
Technical Plenary on Protocols and Human Rights during IETF98. during and after the Technical Plenary on Protocols and Human Rights
during IETF98.
Without judging them on their internal or external consistency they Without judging them on their internal or external consistency they
are represented here, where possible we sought to engage with are represented here. Where possible we also sought to engage with
academic literature on this topic. the academic literature on this topic.
4.1. Technology is value neutral 4.1. Technology is value neutral
This position starts from the premise that the technical and This position starts from the premise that the technical and
political are differentiated fields and that technology is 'value political are differentiated fields and that technology is 'value
free'. This is also put more explicitly by Carey: "electronics is free'. This is also put more explicitly by Carey: "electronics is
neither the arrival of apocalypse nor the dispensation of grace. neither the arrival of apocalypse nor the dispensation of grace.
Technology is technology; it is a means for communication and Technology is technology; it is a means for communication and
transportation over space, and nothing more." [Carey]. In this view transportation over space, and nothing more." [Carey]. In this view
protocols only become political when it is actually being used by protocols only become political when it is actually being used by
humans. So the technology itself is not political, the use of the humans. So the technology itself is not political, the use of the
technology is. This view sees technology as instrument; technology is. This view sees technology as instrument;
"technologies are 'tools' standing ready to serve the purposes of "technologies are 'tools' standing ready to serve the purposes of
their users. Technology is deemed 'neutral,' without valuative their users. Technology is deemed 'neutral,' without valuative
content of its own.'" [Feenberg]. Feenberg continues: "technology is content of its own.'" [Feenberg]. Feenberg continues: "technology is
not inherently good or bad, and can be used to whatever political or not inherently good or bad, and can be used to whatever political or
social ends desired by the person or institution in control. social ends desired by the person or institution in control.
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"technologies are 'tools' standing ready to serve the purposes of "technologies are 'tools' standing ready to serve the purposes of
their users. Technology is deemed 'neutral,' without valuative their users. Technology is deemed 'neutral,' without valuative
content of its own.'" [Feenberg]. Feenberg continues: "technology is content of its own.'" [Feenberg]. Feenberg continues: "technology is
not inherently good or bad, and can be used to whatever political or not inherently good or bad, and can be used to whatever political or
social ends desired by the person or institution in control. social ends desired by the person or institution in control.
Technology is a 'rational entity' and universally applicable. One Technology is a 'rational entity' and universally applicable. One
may make exceptions on moral grounds, but one must also understand may make exceptions on moral grounds, but one must also understand
that the "price for the achievement of environmental, ethical, or that the "price for the achievement of environmental, ethical, or
religious goals...is reduced efficiency." [Feenberg]. religious goals...is reduced efficiency." [Feenberg].
4.2. Some protocols are political some times 4.2. Some protocols are political sometimes
This stance is a pragmatic approach to the problem. It states that This stance is a pragmatic approach to the problem. It states that
some protocols under certain conditions can themselves have a some protocols under certain conditions can themselves have a
political dimension. This is different from the claim that a political dimension. This is different from the claim that a
protocol might sometimes be used in a political way; that view is protocol might sometimes be used in a political way; that view is
consistent with the idea of the technology being neutral (for the consistent with the idea of the technology being neutral (for the
human action using the technology is where the politics lies). human action using the technology is where the politics lies).
Instead, this position requires that each protocol and use be Instead, this position requires that each protocol and use be
evaluated for its political dimension, in order to understand the evaluated for its political dimension, in order to understand the
extent to which it is political. extent to which it is political.
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From this perspective, technologies can shape the world. As Martin From this perspective, technologies can shape the world. As Martin
Heidegger says, "The hydroelectric plant is not built into the Rhine Heidegger says, "The hydroelectric plant is not built into the Rhine
River as was the old wooden bridge that joined bank with bank for River as was the old wooden bridge that joined bank with bank for
hundreds of years. Rather the river is dammed up into the power hundreds of years. Rather the river is dammed up into the power
plant. What the river is now, namely, a water power supplier, plant. What the river is now, namely, a water power supplier,
derives from out of the essence of the power station." [Heidegger] derives from out of the essence of the power station." [Heidegger]
(p 16) The dam in the river changes the world in a way the bridge (p 16) The dam in the river changes the world in a way the bridge
does not, because the dam alters the nature of the river. does not, because the dam alters the nature of the river.
In the same way -in another and more recent example- the very In the same way - in another and more recent example - the very
existence automobiles impose physical forms on the world different existence of automobiles imposes physical forms on the world
from those that come from the electric tram or the horse-cart. The different from those that come from the electric tram or the horse-
logic of the automobile means speed and the rapid covering of cart. The logic of the automobile means speed and the rapid covering
distance, which encourages suburban development and a tendency toward of distance, which encourages suburban development and a tendency
conurbation. But even if that did not happen, widespread automobile toward conurbation. But even if that did not happen, widespread
use requires paved roads, and parking lots and structures. These are automobile use requires paved roads, and parking lots and structures.
pressures that come from the automotive technology itself, and would These are pressures that come from the automotive technology itself,
not arise without that technology. and would not arise without that technology.
In much same way, then, networking technology, such as protocols, In much same way, then, networking technology, such as protocols,
creates its own demands. One of the most important conditions for creates its own demands. One of the most important conditions for a
protocol success is its incremental deployability [RFC5218]. This protocol's success is its incremental deployability [RFC5218]. This
means that the network already contains constraints on what can be means that the network already contains constraints on what can be
deployed into it. In this sense the network creates its own paths, deployed into it. In this sense the network creates its own paths,
but also has its own objective. According to this view the goal of but also has its own objective. According to this view the goal of
the network is interconnection and connectivity; more connectivity is the network is interconnection and connectivity; more connectivity is
good for the network. Proponents of this positions also often good for the network. Proponents of this positions also often
describe the Internet as an organism with its own unique ecosystem. describe the Internet as an organism with its own unique ecosystem.
In this position it is not necessarily clear where the 'social' ends In this position it is not necessarily clear where the 'social' ends
and the 'technical' begins, and it could be argued that the and the 'technical' begins, and it could be argued that the
distinction itself is a social construction [BijkerLaw] or that a distinction itself is a social construction [BijkerLaw] or that a
real-life distinction between the two is hard to be made [Bloor]. real-life distinction between the two is hard to make [Bloor].
4.5. Protocols are inherently political 4.5. Protocols are inherently political
This position argues the opposite of 'technological neutrality'. This position argues the opposite of 'technological neutrality'.
This position can be illustrated with Postman where he writes: 'the This position is illustrated by Postman when he writes: "the uses
uses made of technology are largely determined by the structure of made of technology are largely determined by the structure of the
the technology itself' [Postman]. He states that the medium itself technology itself" [Postman]. He states that the medium itself
'contains an ideological bias'. He continues to argue that "contains an ideological bias". He continues to argue that
technology is non-neutral: technology is non-neutral:
(1) because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded, (1) because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded,
different media have different intellectual and emotional biases; (2) different media have different intellectual and emotional biases; (2)
because of the accessibility and speed of their information, because of the accessibility and speed of their information,
different media have different political biases; (3) because of their different media have different political biases; (3) because of their
physical form, different media have different sensory biases; (4) physical form, different media have different sensory biases; (4)
because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different media because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different media
have different social biases; (5) because of their technical and have different social biases; (5) because of their technical and
economic structure, different media have different content biases. economic structure, different media have different content biases.
Recent scholars of Internet infrastructure and governance have also Recent scholars of Internet infrastructure and governance have also
pointed out that Internet processes and standards have become part pointed out that Internet processes and standards have become part
and parcel of political processes and public policies. Several and parcel of political processes and public policies. Several
concrete examples are found within this approach, for instance, the concrete examples are found within this approach, for instance, the
IANA transition or global innovation policy [DeNardis]. The Raven IANA transition or global innovation policy [DeNardis]. The Raven
process in which the IETF refused to standardize wiretapping -which process in which the IETF refused to standardize wiretapping - which
resulted in [RFC2804]- was an instance where an international resulted in [RFC2804] - was an instance where an international
governance body took a position that was largely political, although governance body took a position that was largely political, although
driven by a technical argument. The process that led to [RFC6973] is driven by a technical argument. The process that led to [RFC6973] is
similar: the Snowden disclosures which occured in the political similar: the Snowden disclosures, which occured in the political
space, engendered the IETF to act. This is summarized in [Abbate] space, engendered the IETF to act. This is summarized in [Abbate]
who says: "protocols are politics by other means", emphasizing the who says: "protocols are politics by other means," emphasizing the
interests that are at play in the process of designing standards. interests that are at play in the process of designing standards.
This position further holds that protocols can never be understood This position further holds that protocols can never be understood
without their contextual embeddedness: protocols do not exist solely without their contextual embeddedness: protocols do not exist solely
by themselves but always are to be understood in a more complex by themselves but always are to be understood in a more complex
context - the stack, hardware, or nation-state interests and their context - the stack, hardware, or nation-state interests and their
impact on civil rights. Finally, this view is that that protocols impact on civil rights. Finally, this view is that protocols are
are political because they affect or sometimes effect the socio- political because they affect or sometimes effect the socio-technical
technical ordering of reality. The latter observation leads Winner ordering of reality. The latter observation leads Winner to conclude
to conclude that the reality of technological progress has too often that the reality of technological progress has too often been a
been a scenario where the innovation has dictated change for society. scenario where innovation has dictated change for society. Those who
Those who had the power to introduce a new technology also had the had the power to introduce a new technology also had the power to
power to create a consumer class to use the technology 'with new create a consumer class to use the technology "with new practices,
practices, relationships, and identities supplanting the old, --and relationships, and identities supplanting the old, -- and those who
those who had the wherewithal to implement new technologies often had the wherewithal to implement new technologies often molded
molded society to match the needs of emerging technologies and society to match the needs of emerging technologies and
organizations.' [Winner]. organizations." [Winner].
5. IETF: Protocols as Standards 5. IETF: Protocols as Standards
In the previous section we gave an overview of the different existing In the previous section we gave an overview of the different existing
positions of the impact of Internet protocols in the Internet positions of the impact of Internet protocols in the Internet
community. In the following section we will consider the standards protocol community. In the following section we will review the
setting process and its consequences for the politics of protocols. standards setting process and its consequences for the politics of
protocols, through the lens of existing literature on standards
setting.
Standards enabling interoperating networks, what we think of today as Standards enabling interoperating networks, what we think of today as
the Internet, were created as open, formal and voluntary standards. the Internet, were created as open, formal and voluntary standards.
A platform for internet standardisation, the Internet Engineering A platform for Internet standardization, the Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF), was created in 1986 to enable the continuation of Task Force (IETF), was created in 1986 to enable the continuation of
such standardisation work. The IETF has sought to make the standards such standardization work. The IETF has sought to make the standards
process transparent (by ensuring everyone can access standards, process transparent (by ensuring everyone can access standards,
mailing-lists and meetings), predictable (by having clear procedures mailing-lists and meetings), predictable (by having clear procedures
and reviews) and of high quality (by having draft documents reviewed and reviews) and of high quality (by having draft documents reviewed
by members from its own epistemic community). This is all aimed at by members from its own epistemic community). This is all aimed at
increasing the accountability of the process and the quality of the increasing the accountability of the process and the quality of the
standard. standard.
The IETF implements what has been referred to as an "informal ex ante The IETF implements what has been referred to as an "informal ex ante
disclosure policy" for patents [Contreras], which includes the disclosure policy" for patents [Contreras], which includes the
possibility for participants to disclose the existence of a patent possibility for participants to disclose the existence of a patent
relevant for the standard, royalty-terms which would apply to the relevant for the standard, royalty-terms which would apply to the
implementors of that standard should it enter into effect, as well as implementers of that standard should it enter into effect, as well as
other licensing terms that may be interesting for implementors to other licensing terms that may be interesting for implementers to
know. The community ethos in the IETF seems to lead to 100% royalty- know. The community ethos in the IETF seems to lead to 100% royalty-
free disclosures of prior patents which is a record number, even free disclosures of prior patents which is a record number, even
among other comparable standard organisations [Contreras]. In the among other comparable standard organizations [Contreras]. In the
following paragraph we will describe inherent tensions in the following paragraph we will describe inherent tensions in the
standards process. standards process.
5.1. Competition and collaboration 5.1. Competition and collaboration
Standards exist for nearly everything: processes, technologies, Standards exist for nearly everything: processes, technologies,
safety, hiring, elections, and training. Standards provide blue- safety, hiring, elections, and training. Standards provide blue-
prints for how to accomplish a particular task in a similar way for prints for how to accomplish a particular task in a similar way for
others that are trying to accomplish the same thing, while reducing others that are trying to accomplish the same thing, while reducing
overhead and inefficiencies. Although there are different types and overhead and inefficiencies. Although there are different types and
configurations of standards, they all enhance competition by allowing configurations of standards, they all enhance competition by allowing
different entities to work from a commonly accepted baseline. different entities to work from a commonly accepted baseline.
On the first types of standards than can be found are "informal" ones On the first types of standards than can be found are "informal" ones
-agreed upon normal ways of interacting within a specific community. - agreed-upon normal ways of interacting within a specific community.
For example, the process through which greetings to a new For example, the process through which greetings to a new
acquaintance are expressed through a bow, a handshake or a kiss. On acquaintance are expressed through a bow, a handshake or a kiss. On
the other hand "formal" standards, are normally codified in writing. the other hand, "formal" standards are normally codified in writing.
The next subsection will ---
Within economy studies, _de facto_ standards arise in market Within economy studies, _de facto_ standards arise in market
situations where one entity is particularly dominant; downstream situations where one entity is particularly dominant; downstream
competitors are therefore tied to the dominant entity's technological competitors are therefore tied to the dominant entity's technological
solutions [Ahlborn]. Under EU anti-trust law, de facto standards solutions [Ahlborn]. Under EU anti-trust law, _de facto_ standards
have been found to restrict competition for downstream services in PC have been found to restrict competition for downstream services in PC
software products [CJEU2007], as well as downstream services software products [CJEU2007], as well as downstream services
dependent on health information [CJEU2004]. dependent on health information [CJEU2004].
Even in international law, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) uses Even in international law, the World Trade Organization (WTO) uses
standards, although it recognises a difference between standards and standards, although it recognizes a difference between standards and
technical regulations. The former are voluntary formal codes to technical regulations. The former are voluntary formal codes to
which products or services may conform, while technical regulations which products or services may conform, while technical regulations
are mandatory requirements to be fullfilled for a product to be are mandatory requirements to be fullfilled for a product to be
accessible on one of the WTO country markets. These rules have accessible in a national market. These rules have implications for
implications for how nation states bounded by the WTO agreements can how nation states bound by WTO agreements can impose specific
impose specific technical requirements on companies. Nonetheles, technical requirements on companies. Nonetheless, there are many
there are many standardisation groups that were originally launched standardization groups that were originally launched by nation states
by nation states or groups of nation states. ISO, BIS, CNIS, NIST, or groups of nation states. ISO, BIS, CNIS, NIST, ABNT and ETSI are
ABNT and ETSI are examples of institutions that are, wholly or examples of institutions that are, wholly or partially, sponsored by
partially, sponsored by public money in order to ensure smooth public money in order to ensure the smooth development of formal
development of formal standards. Even if under WTO rules these standards. Even if under WTO rules these organizations cannot create
organisations cannot create the equivalent of a technical regulation, the equivalent of a technical regulation, they have important
they have important normative functions in their respective normative functions in their respective countries. No matter what
countries. No matter what form, all standards enhance competition form, all standards enhance competition and collaboration because
and collaboration because they define a common approach to a problem. they define a common approach to a problem. This potentially allows
This potentially allows different instances to interoperate or be different instances to interoperate or be evaluated according to the
evaluated according to the same indicators. same indicators.
The development of formal standards faces a number of economic and The development of formal standards faces a number of economic and
organisational challenges. Mainly, the cost and difficulty of organizational challenges. Mainly, the cost and difficulty of
organising many entities around a mutual goal, as well as the cost of organizing many entities around a mutual goal, as well as the cost of
research and development leading up to a mutually beneficial research and development leading up to a mutually beneficial
technological platform. In addition, deciding what the mutual goal technological platform. In addition, deciding what the mutual goal
is can also be a problem. These challenges may be described as is can also be a problem. These challenges may be described as
inter-organisational costs. Even after a goal is decided upon, inter-organizational costs. Even after a goal is decided upon,
coordination of multiple entities requires time and money. One needs coordination of multiple entities requires time and money. One needs
communication platforms, processes and a commitment to mutual communication platforms, processes and a commitment to mutual
investment in a higher good. They are not simple tasks, and the more investment in a higher good. They are not simple tasks, and the more
different communities are affected by a particular standardisation different communities are affected by a particular standardization
process, the more difficult the organisational challenges become. process, the more difficult the organizational challenges become.
5.2. IETF standards setting externalities
In the specific case of the IETF there is a strong community ethos
and transparent procedures, which are documented in RFCs.
Nonetheless, the IETF is not immune to externalities. We will
describe several of these externalities underneath.
5.2.1. Finance
Sponsorship to the IETF is varied, but is also of the nature that
ongoing projects that are in the specific interest of one or some
group of corporations may be given more funding than other projects
(see [draft-finance-thoughts]). The IETF has faced three periods of
decreased commitment from participants in funding its meetings in the
past ten years, leading, naturally, to self-scrutiny, see for
instance [IAOC69], [IAOC77], [IAOC99].
5.2.2. Interoperability and backward compatability
The need for interoperability, and backward compatability makes
engineering work harder. And once a standard is designed, it does
not automatically mean it will be broadly adopted at a fast pace.
Examples of this are IPv6, DNSSEC, DKIM, etc. The need for
interoperability means that a new protocol needs to take into account
a much more diverse environment than early protocols, and also be
amendable to different needs: protocols needs to relate and negotiate
in a busy agora, as do the protocol developers. This means that some
might get priority, whereas others get dropped.
5.2.3. Competition between layers
There is a competition between layers, and even contestation about
what the borders of different layers are. This leads to competition
between layers and different solutions for similar problems on
different layers, which in its turn leads to further ossification,
which leads to more contestation.
5.3. How voluntary are open standards? 5.2. How voluntary are open standards?
Coordinating transnational stakeholders in a process of negotiation Coordinating transnational stakeholders in a process of negotiation
and agreement through the development of common rules is a form of and agreement through the development of common rules is a form of
global governance [Nadvi]. Standards are among the mechanisms by global governance [Nadvi]. Standards are among the mechanisms by
which this governance is achieved. Conformance to certain standards which this governance is achieved. Conformance to certain standards
is often a basic condition of participation in international trade is often a basic condition of participation in international trade
and communication, so there are strong economic and political and communication, so there are strong economic and political
incentives to conform, even in the absence of legal requirements incentives to conform, even in the absence of legal requirements
[Russell]. [RogersEden] argue: [Russell]. [RogersEden] argue:
"As unequal participants compete to define standards, technological "As unequal participants compete to define standards, technological
compromises emerge, which add complexity to standards. For instance, compromises emerge, which add complexity to standards. For instance,
when working group participants propose competing solutions, it may when working group participants propose competing solutions, it may
be easier for them to agree on a standard that combines all the be easier for them to agree on a standard that combines all the
proposals rather than choosing any single proposal. This shifts the proposals rather than choosing any single proposal. This shifts the
responsibility for selecting a solution onto those who implement the responsibility for selecting a solution onto those who implement the
standard, which can lead to complex implementations that may not be standard, which can lead to complex implementations that may not be
interoperable. On its face this appears to be a failure of the interoperable. On its face this appears to be a failure of the
standardization process, but this outcome may benefit certain standardization process, but this outcome may benefit certain
participants-- for example, by allowing an implementer with large participants - for example, by allowing an implementer with large
market share to establish a de facto standard within the scope of the market share to establish a _de facto_ standard within the scope of
documented standard." the documented standard."
6. The need for a positioning
It is indisputable that the Internet plays an increasingly important 6. Conclusion
role in the lives of individuals. The community that produces
standards for the Internet therefore also has an impact on society,
which it itself has recognised in a number of previously adopted
documents [RFC1958].
The IETF cannot ordain which standards are to be used on the Economics, competition, collaboration, openness, and political impact
networks, and it specifically does not determine the laws of regions have been an inherent part of the work of the IETF since its early
or countries where networks are being used, but it does set open beginnings, by its nature as a standards development organization,
through the contributions of the members of the Internet community,
and because of the ordering effect the Internet has on society. The
IETF cannot ordain which standards are to be used on the networks,
and it specifically does not determine the laws of regions or
countries where networks are being used, but it does set open
standards for interoperability on the Internet, and has done so since standards for interoperability on the Internet, and has done so since
the inception of the Internet. Because a standard is the blue-print the inception of the Internet. Because a standard is the blue-print
for how to accomplish a particular task in a similar way to others, for how to accomplish a particular task in a similar way to others,
the standards adopted have a normative effect. The standardisation the standards adopted have a normative effect. The standardization
work at the IETF will have implications on what is perceived as work at the IETF will have implications on what is perceived as
technologically possible and useful where networking technologies are technologically possible and useful where networking technologies are
being deployed, and its standards output reflect was is considered by being deployed, and its standards reflect what is considered by the
the technical community as feasible and good practice. technical community as feasible and good practice.
This calls for providing a methodology in the IETF community to
evaluate which routes forward should indeed be feasible, what
constitutes the "good" in "good practice" and what trade-offs between
different feasible features of technologies are useful and should
therefore be made possible. Such an analysis should take societal
implication into account.
The risk of not doing this is threefold: (1) the IETF might make
decisions which have a political impact that was not intended by the
community, (2) other bodies or entities might make the decisions for
the IETF because the IETF does not have an explicit stance, (3) other
bodies that do take these issues into account might increase in
importance to the detriment of the influence of the IETF.
This does not mean the IETF does not have a position on particular
political issues. The policies for open and diverse participation
[RFC7704], the anti-harassment policy [RFC7776], as well as the
Guidelines for Privacy Considerations [RFC6973] are proof of this.
Nonetheless, these are all examples of positions about the IETF's
work processes or product. What is absent is a way for IETF
participants to evaluate their role with respect to the wider
implications of that IETF work.
7. Conclusion Whereas there might not be agreement among the Internet protocol
community on what the specific political nature is of technological
development, it is undisputed that standards and protocols are both
products of a political process, and they can also be used for
political means. Therefore protocols and standards are 'value-
neutral, and neither is the IETF' [RFC3935]. Whereas there is no
need for a unified philosophy of Internet protocols, it is to the
benefit of the IETF, the Internet, and arguably society at large to
take this into account in the standards development process.
Economics, competition, collaboration, openness, and political impact
have been an inherent part of the work of the IETF since its early
beginnings, by its nature as standards developing organization,
through the contributions of the members of the Internet community,
and because the ordering effect the Internet has on society. Whereas
there might not be agreement in the Internet community on what the
specific political nature is of technological development, it is
undisputed that standards and protocols are both product of a
political process, and they can also be used for political means.
Therefore protocols and standards are not value neutral. Whereas
there is no need for a unified philosophy of Internet protocols, it
is in the benefit of the IETF, the Internet and arguably society at
large to take this into account in the standards development process.
It can be expected that if the IETF will not take these issues into It can be expected that if the IETF will not take these issues into
account, this might lead to interventions in the form of policies and account, this might lead to interventions in the form of policies and
regulations for instance through governmental or intergovernmental regulations, for instance through governmental or intergovernmental
bodies, which could hamper the work of the IETF. bodies, which could hamper the work of the IETF.
8. The way forward The IETF has already shown that it can develop consensus positions on
particular political issues, such as policies for open and diverse
There are instruments that can help the IETF develop an approach to participation [RFC7704], the anti-harassment policy [RFC7776], as
address the politics of standards. Part of this can be found in well as the Guidelines for Privacy Considerations [RFC6973]. These
[RFC8280] as well as the United National Guiding Principles for are all examples of positions about the IETF's work processes or
Business and Human Rights [UNGP]. But there is not a one-size-fits- product. What is absent is a way for IETF participants to evaluate
all solution. The IETF is a particular organization, with a their role with respect to the wider implications of that IETF work.
particular mandate, and even if a policy is in place, its success
depends on the implementation of the policy by the community.
Since 'de facto standardization is reliant on market forces'
[Hanseth] we need to live with the fact standards bodies have a
political nature [Webster] and are not value neutral. This does not
need to be problematic as long as there are sufficient accountability
and transparency mechanisms in place. The importance of these
mechanisms increases with the importance of the standards and their
implementations. The complexity of the work inscribes a requirement
of competence in the work in the IETF, which forms an inherent
barrier for end-user involvement. Even though this might not be
intentional, it is a result of the interplay between the
characteristics of the epistemic community in the IETF and the nature
of the standard setting process.
Instead of splitting hairs about whether 'standards are political'
[Winner] [Woolgar] we argue that we need to look at the politics of
individual standards and invite document authors and reviewers to
take these dynamics into account. If the Internet community fails to
do so, this could undermine the current regime of Internet governance
and standard setting.
9. Security Considerations 7. Security Considerations
As this draft concerns a research document, there are no security As this draft concerns a research document, there are no security
considerations as described in [RFC3552], which does not mean that considerations as described in [RFC3552], which does not mean that
not addressing the issues brought up in this draft will not impact not addressing the issues brought up in this draft will not impact
the security of end-users or operators. the security of end-users or operators.
10. IANA Considerations 8. IANA Considerations
This document has no actions for IANA. This document has no actions for IANA.
11. Acknowledgements 9. Acknowledgements
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, Brian Carpenter, Mark Perkins and all Thanks to Michael Rogers, Andrew Sullivan, Brian Carpenter, Mark
contributors and reviewers on the hrpc mailinglist. Special thanks Perkins and all contributors and reviewers on the hrpc mailinglist.
to Gisela Perez de Acha for some thorough editing rounds. Special thanks to Gisela Perez de Acha for some thorough editing
rounds, and Amelia Andersdotter for significant text contributions.
12. Research Group Information 10. Research Group Information
The discussion list for the IRTF Human Rights Protocol Considerations The discussion list for the IRTF Human Rights Protocol Considerations
working group is located at the e-mail address hrpc@ietf.org [1]. working group is located at the e-mail address hrpc@ietf.org [1].
Information on the group and information on how to subscribe to the Information on the group and information on how to subscribe to the
list is at: https://www.irtf.org/mailman/listinfo/hrpc [2] list is at: https://www.irtf.org/mailman/listinfo/hrpc [2]
Archives of the list can be found at: https://www.irtf.org/mail- Archives of the list can be found at: https://www.irtf.org/mail-
archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html [3] archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html [3]
13. References 11. References
13.1. Informative References 11.1. Informative References
[Abbate] Abbate, J., "Inventing the Internet", MIT Press , 2000, [Abbate] Abbate, J., "Inventing the Internet", MIT Press , 2000,
<https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/inventing-internet>. <https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/inventing-internet>.
[Ahlborn] Ahlborn, C., Denicolo, V., Geradin, D., and A. Padilla, [Ahlborn] Ahlborn, C., Denicolo, V., Geradin, D., and A. Padilla,
"Implications of the Proposed Framework and Antitrust "Implications of the Proposed Framework and Antitrust
Rules for Dynamically Competitive Industries", DG Comp's Rules for Dynamically Competitive Industries", DG Comp's
Discussion Paper on Article 82, DG COMP, European Discussion Paper on Article 82, DG COMP, European
Commission , 2006, Commission , 2006,
<http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?num=T-201/04>. <http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?num=T-201/04>.
skipping to change at page 18, line 11 skipping to change at page 15, line 48
Principles for Business and Human Rights", 2011, Principles for Business and Human Rights", 2011,
<http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/ <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/
GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf>. GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf>.
[Webster] Webster, J., "Networks of Collaboration or Conflict? The [Webster] Webster, J., "Networks of Collaboration or Conflict? The
Development of EDI", The social shaping of inter- Development of EDI", The social shaping of inter-
organizational IT systems and data interchange, eds: I. organizational IT systems and data interchange, eds: I.
McLougling & D. Mason, European Commission PICT/COST A4 , McLougling & D. Mason, European Commission PICT/COST A4 ,
1995. 1995.
[Winner] Winner, L., "Upon openig the black box and finding it [Winner] Winner, L., "Upon opening the black box and finding it
empty: Social constructivism and the philosophy of empty: Social constructivism and the philosophy of
technology", Science, Technology, and Human Values 18 (3) technology", Science, Technology, and Human Values 18 (3)
p. 362-378 , 1993. p. 362-378 , 1993.
[Woolgar] Woolgar, S., "Configuring the user: the case of usability [Woolgar] Woolgar, S., "Configuring the user: the case of usability
trials", A sociology of monsters. Essays on power, trials", A sociology of monsters. Essays on power,
technology and dominatior, ed: J. Law, Routeledge p. technology and dominatior, ed: J. Law, Routeledge p.
57-102. , 1991. 57-102. , 1991.
13.2. URIs 11.2. URIs
[1] mailto:hrpc@ietf.org [1] mailto:hrpc@ietf.org
[2] https://www.irtf.org/mailman/listinfo/hrpc [2] https://www.irtf.org/mailman/listinfo/hrpc
[3] https://www.irtf.org/mail-archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html [3] https://www.irtf.org/mail-archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html
Authors' Addresses Author's Address
Niels ten Oever Niels ten Oever
University of Amsterdam University of Amsterdam
EMail: mail@nielstenoever.net EMail: mail@nielstenoever.net
Amelia Andersdotter
ARTICLE 19
EMail: amelia@article19.org
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