Internet Protocols and Human Rights: The New Front Line for Digital Freedom

TORONTO, 17 MAY – At RightsCon, NetBlocks and Article 19 are presenting new work to review and strengthen core internet protocols at the Internet Engineering Task Force and other bodies.

Internet protocols, standards and Human Rights at RightsCon

Internet Protocols and Human Rights: The New Front Line for Digital Freedom

RightsCon: 3:00PM, Thursday 17 May, Room 205A

Speakers: Alp Toker, Shivan Kaul Sahib, Mallory Knodel

A group of technologists representing civil society and industry are joining forces to build human rights considerations into the core standards that define how the internet works. Critical decisions made at standards bodies including IETF, ICANN and IEEE will define the rules of engagement for encryption, privacy and equal access. The work is deeply technical and almost invisible to the wider human rights community and general public, yet those decision are the basis of all digital products we rely on today.

The alliance has already produced results, consolidating work on the 451 HTTP status code for “legally withheld content” increasingly being used by governments to stifle dissent online, building reference implementations of tools to understand how they may impact at-risk communities, and bolstering privacy in real-time communication systems used worldwide.

How are human rights issues addressed in technical environments, and what are the challenges faced by civil society groups working in the public interest? How can the wider community get involved and how can we level the playing field to allow for a multi-stakeholder future for internet standards?

This session will shed light on the work of the Internet Research Task Force’s Human Rights Protocol Considerations (HRPC) research group and its shift towards implementation at the IETF. The task of deploying more secure technologies into consumer platforms and networking devices is technically demanding but the outcome of the work will define the social contract between consumers, technology companies and governments for decades to come.