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Thursday, February 18 • 11:00am - 11:15am
Standardizing Internet Security: Surveillance, Human Rights, and TLS 1.3

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Link to Paper​​​
This paper conducts a detailed case study of the development of a new transport layer security (TLS) standard and its implications for the privacy of Internet users and the security and accountability of network operators. TLS version 1.3 was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) from 2014 - 2018 in reaction to a major political controversy over surveillance. Analyzing the controversies around its design, adoption and implementation illuminates the role of technical standards in the governance of cybersecurity and the Internet. It also contributes to an ongoing theoretical debate about the degree to which protocols or standards can be considered “political.” The paper develops a conceptual framework that identifies three distinct relationships between standards and political/social effects: 1) the political economy of the standardization process (PES); 2) the societal effects of a standard’s adoption, implementation and use (SES); and 3) protocols have politics (PHP), or politics and rights are embedded in the standard. In analyzing the development of TLS 1.3, we find that the PHP approach had limited explanatory value compared to the first and second approaches. By conveying the idea that political, economic and social effects can be hard coded into protocol designs, the protocols-have-politics view short-circuits careful analysis of the way standards contribute to governance.

avatar for Roslyn Layton, PhD

Roslyn Layton, PhD

Visiting Researcher, Aalborg University

avatar for Milton Mueller

Milton Mueller

Professor, Goergia Institute of Technology
Milton Mueller is the O.G. of I.G. He directs the Internet Governance Project, a center for research and engagement on global Internet governance. Mueller's books Will the Internet Fragment? (Polity, 2017), Networks and States: The global politics of Internet governance (MIT Press... Read More →

Thursday February 18, 2021 11:00am - 11:15am EST
Room #4