Taking the High Route - the Internet routing architecture and human rights

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What: Taking the High Route: the Internet Routing Architecture and Human rights
Who: Niels ten Oever, Researcher and PhD Candidate | DATACTIVE Research Group, University of Amsterdam
Date: Thursday, March 26
Time: 11:30am EST / 3:30pm UTC+0 (other times below)

What: The lives of billions of people have become entangled with the Internet, and with that, it has become the backbone of information societies. By facilitating the interconnection among over 72,000 separate and independent networks, commonly known as Autonomous Systems (ASes), Internet routing forms a foundational part of the Internet as we know it, even though it is unknown and invisible to most people. In this presentation, Niels will discuss the interrelation between Internet routing and human rights, showcase how Internet routing is changing with the introduction of 5G and the introduction of new national laws, and how this is affecting human rights.

>> Check notes out notes from other sessions here



A link to Niels' slidedeck can be found here: https://cryptpad.fr/file/#/2/file/4NovQT4uaXr22MzSKoE-9M39/ (stored on Cryptpad)

  • Niels Ten Oever is a PhD Candidate at University of Amsterdam presented. He is finishing his research on routing infrastructure, which governs our everyday lives. Routing infrastructure sets invisible rules for our lives. This is understudied in social sciences but it is very researchable.

High level notes:

  • Internet infrastructure is idealized or forgotten and it is used as a tool to achieve certain policy goals
  • There is no central authority. Infrastructure is distributed and quite resilient. However, change is hard to achieve without a central authority. Voluntary agreements or standards are made in different bodies
  • Niels is studying how are norms and values represented in these different governing networks.
  • Internet governing bodies are built to build interconnection. They will refuse or reject anything that interferes with this goal. They are not good ascribing societal norms but rather good at bringing independent networks together
  • 5g sounds is a great marketing term because it sounds like its an evolution of what we had before 3g, etc, but its not the case. ITs not only going to be different but cover more layers. It will bring out role out new networking hardware that will also bring new paradigms.
  • We don't know what 5g will bring. However, frustrations with multi-stakeholder internet governance is leading to new developments.
  • Currently, 4g is 23 different standards but we don't know what implementation means, since only 3G has just been agreed upon. What we do know is that will bring new networking paradigm and different antenna techniques. It will also allow entities to replace internet protocols with their own proprietary protocols. These entities don't feel they need to build a network since most traffic going to only a few content providers
  • If you look at International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the average age is very old, and the demographic is very northern American and northern European. Standard bodies don’t reflect diversity of internet users. In addition, any positive intention to fix diversity is thrown out the window once they encounter technical problems. Internet is intolerant of non-latin script and not optimized for non-english languages. Governing bodies and standards are also based on US and European norms/values.
  • Because the GDPR has become the privacy standard for the whole world, Europe becomes the arbiter for other parts of the world. This is the tussle in working with internet standards: who is setting the rules for what, and what is the right interface?
  • The internet was not a commercial project - it started as a was a public project. Until 1993, commercial traffic was not allowed. All the risks etc was paid by public money, commercial money only came in when we needed to scale. Now we are entering into a new phase that may require new governance bodies.

Reading List:





The Internet Imaginaire

The Digital Sublime

Open Standards and the Digital Age

From Counterculture to Cyberculture

Internet Daemons

The Global War for Internet Governance

Protocol Politics

Internet protocol book list.jpeg