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Human Rights Protocol Considerations

The information below is for a proposed recharter. The current approved charter is version 01
Document Proposed charter Human Rights Protocol Considerations RG (hrpc)
Title Human Rights Protocol Considerations
Last updated 2023-11-04
State Start Chartering/Rechartering (Internal Steering Group/IAB Review) Rechartering
RG State Active
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Human Rights and Policy Considerations Research Group

The Human Rights and Policy Considerations (HRPC) Research Group (RG) aims
to explore and research the relationship between Internet architecture and
human rights for a wide audience. It aims to inform the technical community
of how the design of protocols impacts, and can be informed by, policies
that serve the public interest and protect human rights. It also aims to
inform policy makers and civil society groups of technical constraints that
might impact policy choices. The role of the research group is to promote
understanding of the issues so those making decisions can do so in an
informed manner.


The research group takes as its starting point the statement that
human-rights-enabling characteristics of the Internet might be degraded if
they are not properly defined, described, and sufficiently taken into
account in protocol and standards development. Not protecting these
characteristics could result in (partial) loss of functionality and

Moreover, it is widely accepted that technical design decisions about the
Internet are not value neutral and can have lasting impacts on public
policy and individual human rights. Studying those impacts is one of the
goals of this group.

The Internet aims to be the global network of networks that provides
unfettered connectivity to all users at all times and for any content.
Open, secure, and reliable connectivity is essential for rights such as
freedom of expression and freedom of association. Since the Internet’s
objective of connectivity intersects with human rights, its architectural
design considerations overlap with the human rights framework.

Research question

Our main research question is: "How are human rights and public interest
policy considered during the development of the Internet?"

We seek to ask (in no specific order):

  • What are established models for evaluating these considerations and how
    do they potentially apply to Internet standards development?

  • Which human rights are strengthened and which are weakened by a given
    protocol's design decision?

  • Which protocol's design decisions benefit from an established model that
    evaluates human rights and public interest policy considerations?

The Human Rights and Policy Considerations Research Group is chartered to
research protocol development that is responsible towards and mindful of
human rights, and to explore whether standards and protocols can enable,
strengthen or threaten human rights, as defined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) [1] and the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [2].

Furthermore, HRPC researches how protocols can influence policy concerns
that intersect with human rights, and vice versa. This research group is a
discursive resource for the community to support the protocol development
process in recognizing these potential public policy impacts, as well as
assist to address those impacts adequately. The Global Data Protection
Regulation [3], the principles of necessity and proportionality of
surveillance [4] are examples of policy developments that have led to rich
areas of work for the IETF through the Privacy Enhancements and Assessments
Research Group (PEARG). More similar regulatory actions are expected as the
digital age progresses.

HRPC collaborates with other research groups: with Privacy Enhancements
and Assessments Research Group (PEARG) on privacy as a human right, with
Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) on second-generation equity
rights, with Research and Analysis of Standard-Setting Processes Research
Group (RASPRG) on analysing how discussion of core architectural principles
make value judgements, and with the Measurement and Analysis for Protocols
Research Group (MAPRG) on data analysis and visualization.


  • To expose the relations between protocols and human rights values, with
    a focus on the human rights framework, such as the policy implications
    of technology choices and the technical implications of policy choices.

  • To suggest guidelines to protect the Internet as a human-rights-enabling
    environment and a global public good in future protocol development.

  • To increase awareness in both the human rights community and the
    technical community of the importance of the Internet's technical
    workings, and their impact on human rights and the public interest.

  • To create a place for discussions and analysis of the relationship
    between protocol development, and their human rights and policy
    implications by, among other mechanisms, serving as a bridge between
    the human rights and the protocol's development communities.


The research group plans on using a variety of research methods to create
different outputs including, but not limited to:

  • Internet-Drafts, some of which may be published in IRTF RFC stream.
    These will concern progress of the research group, will describe
    methodologies considered, and will define any possible protocol

  • Research papers for publication elsewhere concerning both policy and
    academic topics, which can include in-depth analysis, discussions and
    review of the values embedded in the Internet architecture.

  • Protocol analysis to research their concrete impact on human rights and
    the public interest.

Note: HRPC does not set policy for the IETF.


Membership is open to any interested parties who intend to remain current
with the published documents and mailing list issues.





Proposed milestones

No milestones for charter found.