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Internet Protocols and the Human Rights to Freedom of Association and Assembly

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Authors Niels ten Oever , Stéphane Couture , Mallory Knodel
Last updated 2023-03-29 (Latest revision 2022-11-24)
Replaces draft-tenoever-hrpc-association
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Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group         N. ten Oever
Internet-Draft                                   University of Amsterdam
Intended status: Informational                                S. Couture
Expires: 29 May 2023                              Université de Montréal
                                                               M. Knodel
                                       Center for Democracy & Technology
                                                        25 November 2022

 Internet Protocols and the Human Rights to Freedom of Association and


   This document explores whether the relationship between the Internet
   architecture and the ability of people to exercise their rights to
   peaceful assembly and association online.  It does so by asking the
   question: what are the protocol development considerations for
   freedom of assembly and association?  The Internet increasingly
   mediates our lives, our relationships, and our ability to exercise
   our human rights.  As a global assemblage, the Internet provides a
   public space, yet it is predominantly built on private
   infrastructure.  Since Internet protocols and architecture play a
   central role in the management, development, and use of the Internet,
   we analyze the relation between protocols, architecture, and the
   rights to assemble and associate to mitigate infringements on those
   rights.  This document concludes that the way in which infrastructure
   is designed and implemented impacts people's ability to exercise
   their freedom of assembly and association.  It is therefore
   recommended that the potential impacts of Internet technologies
   should be assessed, reflecting recommendations of various UN bodies
   and international norms.  Finally, the document considers both the
   limitations on changing association and impact of "forced
   association" in the context of online platforms.

Status of This Memo

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   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Vocabulary used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Research question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     5.1.  FAA definition and core treaties  . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     5.2.  FAA in the digital era  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.3.  Specific questions raised from the literature review  . .  13
   6.  Analysis  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     6.1.  Got No Peace: Spam and DDoS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       6.1.1.  Spam  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
       6.1.2.  DDoS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     6.2.  Holistic Agency: Mailing Lists and Spam . . . . . . . . .  17
       6.2.1.  Mailing lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     6.3.  Civics in Cyberspace: Messaging, Conferencing, and
           Networking  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       6.3.1.  Email . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
       6.3.2.  Mailing lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
       6.3.3.  IRC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
       6.3.4.  WebRTC  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
       6.3.5.  Peer-to-peer networking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     6.4.  Universal Access: The Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
       6.4.1.  Accessibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
       6.4.2.  Internationalization  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
     6.5.  Block Together Now: IRC and Refusals  . . . . . . . . . .  23

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   7.  Conclusions: What can we learn from these case studies? . . .  23
   8.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
   9.  Work Space  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
   10. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
   11. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
   12. Research Group Information  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
   13. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  33

1.  Introduction

      We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us. 

           - John Culkin (1967)

      Article 21 of the Covenant protects peaceful assemblies wherever
      they take place: outdoors, indoors and online; in public and
      private spaces; or a combination thereof.

           - General Comment 37 of the Human Rights Committee (2020)

      In the digital age, the exercise of the rights of peaceful
      assembly and association has become largely dependent on business
      enterprises, whose legal obligations, policies, technical
      standards, financial models and algorithms can affect these

           - Annual Report to the UN Human Rights Council by the Special
           Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and
           of association (2019).

   The current draft continues the work started in "Research into Human
   Rights Protocol Considerations" [RFC8280] by investigating the impact
   of Internet protocols on a specific set of human rights, namely the
   right to peaceful assembly and the right to association.  Taking into
   consideration the international human rights framework, the present
   document seeks to deepen the relationship between these human rights
   and Internet architecture, protocols, and standards.  In that way, we
   continue the work of the Human Rights Protocol Consideration Research
   Group, as laid out in its charter, "to expose the relation between
   protocols and human rights, with a focus on the rights to freedom of
   expression and freedom of assembly" [HRPC-charter].

2.  Vocabulary used

   Architecture  The design of a structure

   Autonomous System (AS)  Autonomous Systems are the unit of routing

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      policy in the modern world of exterior routing [RFC1930].

      Within the Internet, an autonomous system (AS) is a collection of
      connected Internet Protocol (IP) routing prefixes under the
      control of one or more network operators on behalf of a single
      administrative entity or domain that presents a common, clearly
      defined routing policy to the Internet [RFC1930].

      The classic definition of an Autonomous System is a set of routers
      under a single technical administration, using an interior gateway
      protocol and common metrics to route packets within the AS and
      using an exterior gateway protocol to route packets to other ASs

   Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)  An inter-Autonomous System routing
      protocol [RFC4271].

   Connectivity  The extent to which a device or network is able to
      reach other devices or networks to exchange data.  The Internet is
      the tool for providing global connectivity [RFC1958].  Different
      types of connectivity are further specified in [RFC4084].  The
      combination of the end-to-end principle, interoperability,
      distributed architecture, resilience, reliability and robustness
      are the enabling factors that result in connectivity to and on the

   Decentralization  Implementation or deployment of standards,
      protocols or systems without one single point of control.

   Distributed system  A system with multiple components that have their
      behavior co-ordinated via message passing.  These components are
      usually spatially separated and communicate using a network, and
      may be managed by a single root of trust or authority

   Infrastructure  Underlying basis or structure for a functioning
      society, organization or community.  Because infrastructure is a
      precondition for other activities it has a procedural, rather than
      static, nature due to its social and cultural embeddedness
      [PipekWulf] [Bloketal].  This means that infrastructure is always
      relational: infrastructure always develops in relation to
      something or someone [Bowker].

   Internet  The Network of networks, that consists of Autonomous
      Systems that are connected through the Internet Protocol (IP).

      A persistent socio-technical system over which services are
      delivered [Mainwaringetal],

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      A techno-social assemblage of devices, users, sensors, networks,
      routers, governance, administrators, operators and protocols

      An emergent-process-driven thing that is born from the collections
      of the ASes that happen to be gathered together at any given time.
      The fact that they tend to interact at any given time means it is
      an emergent property that happens because they use the protocols
      defined at IETF.

   Right to peaceful assembly  "The right of peaceful assembly protects
      the non-violent gathering by persons for specific purposes,
      principally expressive ones.  It constitutes an individual right
      that is exercised collectively.  Inherent to the right is thus an
      associative element."  [UNGC37]

   Right to association  'The right and freedom of association
      encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups
      voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to
      pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an
      association to accept or decline membership based on certain
      criteria.'  [FoAdef]

3.  Research question

   The research question of this document is: what are the protocol
   development considerations for freedom of assembly and association?

4.  Methodology

   In this document, we deepen our exploration of human rights and
   protocols by assessing one specific set of human rights: freedom of
   association and assembly, abbreviated here as FAA.  Our methodology
   for doing so is the following: first, we provide a brief twofold
   literature review addressing the philosophical and legal definitions
   of FAA and how this right has already been interpreted or analyzed in
   the digital context.  This literature review is not exhaustive but
   aims at providing some lines of questioning that could later be used
   for protocol development.  Second, we look at some cases of Internet
   protocols that are relevant to the sub-questions highlighted in the
   literature review and analyze how these protocols facilitate or
   inhibit the right to peaceful assembly and association.

5.  Literature Review

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5.1.  FAA definition and core treaties

   The rights to peaceful assembly and the freedom of association are
   defined and guaranteed in national law and international treaties;
   however, in this document we limit ourselves to international
   treaties.  Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
   [UDHR] states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
   assembly and association" and that "No one may be compelled to belong
   to an association".  Article 23 further guarantees that "Everyone has
   the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his
   interests".  In the International Covenant on Civil and Political
   Rights [ICCPR], article 21 stipulates that "The right of peaceful
   assembly shall be recognized" and that "No restrictions may be placed
   on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity
   with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the
   interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre
   public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection
   of the rights and freedoms of others" while article 22 states that
   "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others,
   including the right to form and join trade unions".

   General Comment No. 37 on the right of peaceful assembly by the
   United Nations Human Rights Committee affirms that the right of
   peaceful assembly protects non-violent online gatherings: "associated
   activities that happen online or otherwise rely upon digital services
   [...] are also protected" [UNGC37].  Interference with emerging
   communications technologies that offer the opportunity to assemble
   either wholly or partly online or play an integral role in
   organizing, participating in and monitoring physical gatherings are
   assumed to impede assemblies which are protected by this right.
   Moreover, any restriction on the "operation of information
   dissemination systems" must conform with the tests for restrictions
   on freedom of expression (see below).

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   Other treaties are sometimes cited as the source and framework for
   the rights to freedom of association and assembly.  An example of
   this is Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination
   of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [CERD] which stipulates freedom
   of peaceful assembly and association should be guaranteed "without
   discrimination as to race, colour, national or ethnic origin";
   Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] which
   recognises these rights for children with the restrictions cited
   above; and Article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
   Disabilities [CRPD] which insists on usable and accessible formats
   and technologies appropriate for persons with different kinds of
   disabilities.  The freedoms of peaceful assembly and association are
   also protected under regional human rights treaties: article 11 of
   the European Convention on Human Rights, articles 15 and 16 of the
   American Convention on Human Rights, and articles 10 and 11 of the
   African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

   From a more philosophical perspective, Brownlee and Jenkins
   [Stanford] distinguish between the concepts of association, assembly
   and interaction, deviating somewhat from what is established in
   interpretations of international human rights law.  "Interaction"
   refers to any kind of interpersonal and often incidental engagements
   in daily life, like encountering strangers on a bus.  Interaction is
   seen as a prerequisite for association.  According to Brownlee and
   Jenkins, "assembly" has a more political connotation and is often
   used to refer to activists, protesters, or members of a group in a
   deliberating event.  The authors refer to association as more
   "persistent connections" and distinguish between intimate
   associations, like friendship, love, or family, and collective
   association like trade unions or commercial businesses, or
   "expressive associations" like civil rights organizations or LGBTQIA
   associations.  For Brownlee and Jenkins [Stanford], the right to
   association is linked to different relative freedoms: permission (to
   associate or dissociate), claim-right (to oppose others interfering
   with our conduct), power (to alter the status of our association),
   and immunity (from other people interfering in our right).  Freedom
   of association thus refers both to the individual right to join or
   leave a group and to the collective right to form or dissolve a

   Freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, however, are relative
   and not absolute.  Excluding someone from an association based on
   their sex, race or other individual characteristic is also often
   contentious if not illegal.  As mentioned above, international human
   rights law provides the framework for legitimate restrictions on
   these rights, as well as the right to privacy and the right to
   freedom of expression and opinion.  Restrictions can be imposed by
   states, but only if this is lawful and proportionate.  States must

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   document how these limitations are necessary in the interests of
   national security or public safety, public order, the protection of
   public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms
   of others.  Finally, states must also protect participants against
   possible abuses by non-state actors.

   The Human Rights Committee considers restrictions of activities of
   free association online or activities of free association reliant
   upon digital services, that are also protected under article 21, and
   stipulates that "States parties must not, for example, block or
   hinder Internet connectivity in relation to peaceful assemblies.  The
   same applies to geotargeted or technology-specific interference with
   connectivity or access to content."  Additionally, "States should
   ensure that the activities of Internet service providers and
   intermediaries do not unduly restrict assemblies or the privacy of
   assembly participants."  [UNGC37].

   Interpreting international law, the right to freedom of peaceful
   assembly and the right to freedom of association protects any
   collective, gathered either permanently or temporarily for peaceful
   purposes, online and offline.  It is important to underline the
   property of "freedom" because the right to freedom of association and
   assembly is voluntary and uncoerced: anyone can join or leave a group
   of choice, which in turn means one should not be forced to either
   join, stay or leave.  In other words, free association means that
   only the association of people itself determines who can be a member.
   An assembly is an "intentional and temporary gathering of a
   collective in a private or public space for a specific purpose:
   demonstrations, indoor meetings, strikes, processions, rallies, or
   even sits-in" [UNGA].  Association has a more formal and established
   nature and refer to a group of individuals or legal entities brought
   together in order to collectively act, express, promote, pursue, or
   defend a field of common interests [UNSRFOAA2012].  Think about civil
   society organizations, clubs, cooperatives, non-governmental
   organizations, religious associations, political parties, trade
   unions, or foundations.

   When talking about the human right of freedom of association and
   assembly, one should always take into account that "all human rights
   are indivisible, interrelated, unalienable, universal, and mutually
   reinforcing" [ViennaDeclaration].  This means that in the analysis of
   the impact of a certain variable on freedom of association and
   assembly one should take other human rights into account too.  When
   devising an approach to mitigate a possible negative influence on
   this right, one should also always take into account the possible
   impact this might have on other rights.  For example, the following
   rights are often impacted in conjunction with freedom of association
   and assembly: the right to political participation, the right to

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   privacy, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to access
   to information.  For instance, when the right to political
   participation is hampered, this often happens in conjunction with a
   limitation of the freedom of association and assembly because
   political participation is often done collectively.  When the right
   to privacy is hampered, the privacy of particular groups is also
   impacted (so-called 'group privacy' [Loi]), which potentially has
   consequences for the right to association and assembly.  Where the
   freedom of expression of a group is hampered, such as in protests or
   through Internet shutdowns, this both hampers other people's ability
   to receive the information of the group and impacts the right to
   assembly of the people who seek to express themselves as a group

   Finally, if the right to association and assembly is limited by
   national law, this does not mean it is consistent with international
   human rights law.  In such a case, the national law would therefore
   not be legitimate [Glasius].

5.2.  FAA in the digital era

   The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted resolutions on the
   promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet
   in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018, affirming and reaffirming "that the
   same rights that people have offline must also be protected online"
   [UNHRC2018].  Therefore the digital environment is no exception to
   application of the right of freedom of association.  Various other
   resolutions and reports have established the online applicability of
   the freedoms of association and assembly, most recently and
   authoritatively the Human Rights Committee in General Comment 37
   (2020)[UNGC37].  The questions that remain are how these rights
   should be conceptualized and implemented in different parts and
   levels of digital environments.

   The right to freedom of assembly and association online is the
   subject of increasing discussions and analysis.  Especially since
   social media played an important role in several revolutions in 2011,
   there have been increasing and ever more sophisticated attacks by
   autocratic governments on online communities and other associational
   activities occurring on the Internet [RutzenZenn].  In 2016, the
   Council of Europe published the "Report by the Committee of experts
   on cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom on
   Freedom of assembly and association on the Internet" [CoE] which
   noted that while the Internet and communication technologies are not
   explicitly mentioned in international treaties, these treaties
   nevertheless apply to "the online environment".  The report argues
   that the "Internet is the public sphere of the 21st century",
   demonstrated by the fact that informal associations can be gathered

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   at scale in a matter of hours on the Internet, and that digital
   communication tools often serve to facilitate, publicize or otherwise
   enable associations or assemblies in person, like a protest or
   demonstration.  The report notes, on the other hand, the negative
   ways in which the Internet can also be used to promote or facilitate
   terrorism, violence and hate speech, thus insisting on the "extremely
   important and urgent" need to fight online terrorist activities such
   as recruitment or mobilization, while at the same time respecting the
   right to peaceful assembly and association of other users.  The
   report mentions the following examples that could further our

   *  network shutdowns during the Arab Spring, to prevent people from
      organising themselves or assembling

   *  California's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shutdown of mobile
      phone service, to prevent potential property destruction by
      protesters and disruption of service

   *  the wholesale blocking of Google in China as a violation of
      freedom of expression

   *  the telecom company Telus's blocking of customers' access to
      websites critical of Telus during a Telecommunications Workers
      Union strike against it

   *  the targeting of social media users who call for or organise
      protests though the Internet in Turkey's Gezi Park protests

   *  mass surveillance or other interferences with privacy in the
      context of law enforcement and national security

   *  use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and the Tor network to
      ensure anonymity

   *  Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS) as civil

   In 2019 a UN Special Rapporteur noted the opportunities and
   challenges posed by digital networks to the rights to freedom of
   peaceful assembly and of association [UNSRFAA2019].  The report
   recommends that international human rights norms and principles
   should be used as a framework "that guides digital technology
   companies' design, control and governance of digital technologies".
   The report states that "technical standards" in particular can affect
   the freedom of association and assembly, and makes some relevant
   recommendations, including:

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   *  "[Undertake] human rights impact assessments which incorporate the
      rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association when
      developing or modifying their products and services,"

   *  "increase the quality of participation in and implementation of
      existing multi-stakeholder initiatives,"

   *  "collaborate with governments and civil society to develop
      technology that promotes and strengthens human rights,"

   *  "support the research and development of appropriate technological
      solutions to online harassment, disinformation and propaganda,
      including tools to detect and identify State-linked accounts and
      bots," and

   *  "adopt monitoring indicators that include specific concerns
      related to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."

   In one of their "training kits" [APCtraining], the Association of
   Progressive Communications addressed different impacts of the
   Internet on association and assembly and raised three particular
   issues worthy to note here:

   1.  Organization of protests.  The Internet and social media are
       enablers of protests, as was seen in the Arab Spring.  Some of
       these protests - like online petitions or campaigns - are similar
       to offline association and assembly, but other protest forms are
       inherent to the Internet.  Hacking and DDoS are subject to
       controversy within the Internet community: some finding them
       legitimate acts of protest, and others not.

   2.  Surveillance.  While the Internet facilitates association, that
       association in turn leaves many traces that can be used for law
       enforcement or for repression of political dissent.  Even the
       threat of surveillance can deter association.

   3.  Anonymity and pseudonymity.  Anonymity and pseudonymity can be
       useful protection mechanisms for those who'd like to attend
       online assemblies without facing retribution.  On the other hand,
       anonymity can be used to harm society, such as in online fraud or
       sexual predation.

   Online association and assembly are the starting point of civic mass
   mobilization in modern democracies, and even more so where physical
   gatherings have been impossible or dangerous [APC].  Throughout the
   world - from the Arab Spring to Latin American student movements and
   the #WomensMarch - the Internet has played a crucial role by
   providing means for the fast dissemination of information otherwise

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   mediated by the press, or even forbidden by the government [Pensado].
   According to Hussain and Howard the Internet helped "build solidarity
   networks and identification of collective identities and goals,
   extend the range of local coverage to international broadcast
   networks" and served as a platform for contestation of "the future of
   civil society and information infrastructure" [HussainHoward].  The
   IETF itself, defined as an "open global community" of network
   designers, operators, vendors, and researchers [RFC3233] is also
   protected by freedom of assembly and association.  Discussions,
   comments and consensus around RFCs are possible because of the
   collective expression that freedom of association and assembly allow.
   The very word "protocol" found its way into the language of computer
   networking based on the need for collective agreement among a group
   of assembled network users [HafnerandLyon].

   [RFC8280] discusses issues of FAA, specifically:

   *  The expansion of DNS as an enabler of association for minorities.
      The document argues that the expansion of the DNS to allow for new
      generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) can have negative impacts on
      freedom of association because of restrictive policies by some
      registries and registrars.  On the other hand, gTLDs could also
      enable communities to build clearly identifiable spaces for
      association (such as .gay).

   *  The impact of Distributed Denial of Service attacks on freedom of
      association.  Whereas DDoS has been used as a tool for protest, in
      many cases it infringes on the freedom of expression of other
      parties.  Furthermore, often devices (such as IoT devices and
      routers) are enlisted in such DDoS attacks without the owner's or
      user's consent.  Thus they do not have the possibility to exit
      this assembly.  Therefore the document concluded that the IETF
      "should try to ensure that their protocols cannot be used for DDoS

   *  The impact of middleboxes on the ability of users to connect to
      the Internet.  Lack of connectivity can significantly impact
      freedom of assembly and association.  In particular, if the user
      cannot retrieve the reason for their inability to connect, there
      may not be access to due process to dispute the lack of (secure or
      private) connectivity, either in general or to a specific service.

   In June 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
   concluded that technologies can be enablers of the exercise of FAA,
   but technology is also significantly used to interfere with those
   rights.  Specifically, the report mentions network shutdowns and the
   use of technology to surveil or crack down on protesters, leading to
   human rights violations.  This includes facial recognition

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   technology, among other ways to violate the privacy of people engaged
   in an assembly or association.  The report makes it explicit that
   companies play a significant role, by developing, providing or
   selling the technology, but also by directly causing these violations

5.3.  Specific questions raised from the literature review

   Here are some questions raised from the literature review that can
   have implications for protocol design:

   1.  Should protocols be designed to enable legitimate limitations on
       association in the interests of "national security or public
       safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public
       health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of
       others", as stated in the ICCPR article 21 [ICCPR]?  Where in the
       stack do we care for FAA?

   2.  Can protocols facilitate agency of membership in associations,
       assemblies and interactions?

   3.  What are the features of protocols that enable freedom of
       association and assembly?

   4.  Does protocol development sufficiently consider usable and
       accessible formats and technologies appropriate for all persons,
       including those with different kinds of abilities?

   5.  Can a protocol be designed to legitimately exclude someone from
       an association?

   In the following sections we attempt to answer these questions with
   specific examples of standardized protocols in the IETF.

6.  Analysis

   As the Internet mediates collective action and collaboration, it
   impacts on freedom of association and assembly.  To answer our
   research question regarding how Internet architecture enables and/or
   inhibits such human rights, we researched several independent and
   typical cases related to protocols that have been either adopted by
   the IETF, or are widely used on the Internet.  Our goal is to
   determine how they facilitate freedom of assembly and association, or
   how they inhibit it through their design or implementation.

   We are aware that some of the following examples go beyond the use of
   Internet protocols and flow over into the application layer or
   examples in the offline world whereas the purpose of the current

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   document is to break down the relationship between Internet protocols
   and the right to freedom of assembly and association.  In some cases
   the line between protocols and applications, implementations,
   policies and offline realities are blurred and hard - if not
   impossible - to differentiate.

   We use the literature review to guide our process of inquiry for each
   case, and to dive deeper in what can be found interesting about each
   case as it relates to freedom of association.  In each section, we
   consider one of the questions identified in the review, and apply the
   protocol or application (with some overlaps) to that question.

6.1.  Got No Peace: Spam and DDoS

  Should protocols be designed to enable legitimate limitations on
  association in the interests of “national security or public safety,
  public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals
  or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”, as stated in
  the ICCPR article 21 {{ICCPR}}? Where in the stack do we care for FAA?

   The 2020 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human
   Rights [UNHRC2020] described how technology is often used to limit
   freedom of assembly and association, such as through network
   shutdowns and the surveillance of groups.  Because access to the
   Internet is crucial not only for freedom of association and assembly,
   but also for the right to development, and the right to freedom of
   expression and information [Nyokabi], the United Nation Special
   Rapporteur advises to:

   (b) Avoid resorting to disruptions and shutdowns of Internet or
   telecommunications networks at all times and particularly during
   assemblies, including those taking place in electoral contexts
   and during times of unrest;

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   Whereas states have an obligation to protect human rights, there has
   been an increasing call for non-state actors, such as companies, also
   to respect human rights [UNGPBHR].  The UN adopted guiding principles
   on business and human rights [UNGPBHR] and talks within the HRC are
   ongoing about an international legally binding instrument to regulate
   the activities of transnational corporations and other business
   enterprises.  This includes a chain-responsibility of actors: not
   only that the company's own processes should not negatively impact
   human rights, but also that the company should also engage in due
   diligence processes, such as human rights impact assessments.  This
   includes an assessment of whether the products that are sold, or the
   services that are provided, can be used to engage in human rights
   violations, or whether human rights violations occur in any stage of
   the supply chain of the company.  If this is the case, measures
   should be taken to mitigate this.

   In the case of dual-use technologies, where technology could be used
   for legitimate purposes, but could also be used to limit freedom of
   association or assembly, this obligation might mean that producers or
   sellers should limit the parties they sell to, or even better, ensure
   that the illegitimate use of the technology is not technically
   possible anymore, or made more difficult.

6.1.1.  Spam

   In the 1990s as the Internet became more widely adopted, spam came to
   be defined as irrelevant or unsolicited messages that were posted
   many times to multiple news groups or mailing lists [Marcus].  Here
   questions of consent, but also harm, are crucial.  In the 2000s a
   significant part of the technical and policy debate on spam revolved
   around the fact that certain corporations considered spam to be a
   form of "commercial speech", thus encompassed by free expression
   rights [Marcus].  Yet spam can be not only a nuisance, but a threat
   to systems and users.

   This leaves us with an interesting case around spam mitigation: spam
   is currently handled mostly by mail providers on behalf of the user.
   Many countries are adopting regulatory opt-in regimes for mailing
   lists and commercial e-mail, with a possibility of serious fines in
   case of violation.  Yet many ask: is spam not the equivalent of the
   fliers and handbills ever present in our offline world?  The big
   difference between the proliferation of such messages offline and
   online is the scale.  It is not hard for a single person to message a
   lot of people online, whereas if that person needed to go house by
   house the impact of their efforts would be much smaller.  Conversely,
   if it were a common practice to expose people to unlimited unwanted
   messages online, users would be drowned in such messages.  This puts
   a large burden on filtering, and in sifting through many messages,

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   other expressions would be drowned out and would be severely
   hampered.  Allowing unlimited sending of unsolicited messages would
   be a blow against freedom of speech: when everyone talks, nobody can

   Whereas one could perhaps consider singular instances in which spam
   could be proportional, legitimate uses of online campaigning, or
   online protesting, would be drowned out by other spam.  Furthermore,
   the individual receiving the spam never consented to receiving it.
   Finally, the widespread usage of spam constitutes an attack on the
   internet infrastructure in terms of mailservers, bandwidth, and
   inboxes.  This in turn thus hamper the freedom of association and
   assembly that is happening in and is facilitated through the internet
   infrastructure.  Finally, spam leads to spam filtering by users and
   mail providers on behalf of the user, this in turn might lead to the
   blocking of messages that a user would consent to, but that get
   caught in the filter.

6.1.2.  DDoS

   Distributed Denial of Service attacks are leveled against a server or
   service by a controller of multiple hosts by overloading the server
   or service's bandwidth or resources (volume-based floods) or
   exploiting protocol behaviours (protocol attacks).  DDoS attacks can
   thus stifle the right to assemble online for organisations whose
   websites are targeted.  At the same time there are comparisons made
   between DDoS attacks and sit-in protests [Sauter].  However the main
   distinction is significant: only a small fragment of "participants"
   (from controllers to compromised device owners) in DDoS attacks are
   aware or willing [RFC8280].  Notably, DDoS attacks are increasingly
   used to commit crimes such as extortion, which infringe on others'
   human rights.

   Because of the interrelation of technologies, it cannot be said that
   there is one point in the technical stack where one can locate the
   characteristics of "peaceful" or "non-peaceful" association visible
   to protocol developers.  In the cases of spam blocking and DDoS
   mitigation, "peaceful or non-peaceful" is not a meaningful heuristic,
   or even characteristic, of problematic content.  Their commonalities
   are their volume, and the unrequested nature of participation in DDoS
   and the receiving of spam.  One could say that the 'receivers' of
   demonstrations did not ask for it either, but in the case of spam the
   receivers are generally a larger group than one particular target,
   else the spam could be described as a DDoS attack against one target.
   This allows us to draw the conclusion that DDoS and spam are not
   examples of freedom of association or assembly.

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6.2.  Holistic Agency: Mailing Lists and Spam

   Can protocols facilitate agency of membership in associations,
   assemblies and interactions?

6.2.1.  Mailing lists

   Since the beginning of the Internet mailing lists have been a key
   site of assembly and association [RFC0155] [RFC1211].  In fact,
   mailing lists were one of the Internet's first functionalities

   In 1971 four years after the invention of email, the first mailing
   list was created to talk about the idea of using Arpanet for
   discussion.  What had initially propelled the Arpanet project forward
   as a resource sharing platform was gradually replaced by the idea of
   a network as a means of bringing people together [Abbate].  More than
   45 years later, mailing lists are pervasive and help communities to
   engage, have discussions, share information, ask questions, and build
   ties.  Even as social media and discussion forums grow, mailing lists
   continue to be widely used [AckermannKargerZhang] and are still a
   crucial tool to organise groups and individuals around themes and
   causes [APC3].

   Mailing lists' pervasive use are partly explained because they allow
   for free and low-cost association: people subscribe (join) and
   unsubscribe (leave) as they please.  Another contributor to their
   widespread use is that email functions on low bandwith connections
   and across platforms.  Mailing lists also allow for association of
   specific groups on closed lists.  This enables agency of membership,
   a key component of freedom of association and assembly.

   As we mentioned before, there are interesting implications for
   freedom of association and assembly when looking at spam mitigation.
   Here we want to specifically note that if we consider that the rights
   to assembly and association also mean that "no one may be compelled
   to belong to an association" [UDHR], spam infringes both rights if an
   opt-out mechanism is not provided and people are obliged to receive
   unwanted information, or be reached by people they do not wish to be
   in contact with.

6.3.  Civics in Cyberspace: Messaging, Conferencing, and Networking

   What are the features of protocols that enable freedom of
   association and assembly?

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   Civic participation is often expressed as the freedom to associate
   and assemble, along with other enabling rights such as freedom of
   expression and the right to privacy.  Former UN Special Rapporteur
   David Kaye established a strong relationship between technology that
   allows anonymity and uses encryption with positive effects on freedom
   of expression [Kaye].  Here we look at messaging, including email,
   mailing lists and internet relay chat; video conferencing; and peer-
   to-peer networking protocols to investigate the common features that
   enable freedom of association and assembly online.

6.3.1.  Email

   Email was one of the first applications of the early Internet that
   showed what the architecture was really capable of, allowing people
   to exchange messages much faster and more cheaply than communication
   networks could do before.  This enabled many collaborations among
   academics and other users of the early network, showcasing the
   importance of email in the forming of assemblies and associations.
   Whereas many messaging solutions have been invented since email, it
   is still widely used because of its distributed architecture,
   reliability, and ability to function on a wide range of devices and

6.3.2.  Mailing lists

   Not only are mailing lists a good example of how protocols can
   facilitate the necessary ingredient of agency in freedom of
   association, we can see how particular features of mailing lists
   enable or inhibit freedom of association and assembly.

   The archival function of mailing lists allows for posterior
   accountability and analysis.

   The ubiquity and interoperability of email, and by extension mailing
   lists, provides a low barrier to entry to an inclusive medium.

   Association and assembly online can be undermined when right to
   privacy is at risk.  One downside of mailing lists are the privacy
   and security concerns generally associated with email.  End-to-end
   encryption with OpenPGP [RFC4880] and S/MIME [RFC5751] can keep email
   communications authenticated and confidential if properly configured,
   deployed and used, but users often do not have those protections.
   And with mailing lists, this protection is not typically possible,
   because with many lists the final recipients are not known to the
   sender.  There have been experimental solutions to address this issue
   [Schleuder], but this has not been standardized or widely deployed.

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6.3.3.  IRC

   Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application layer protocol that
   enables communication in the form of text through a client/server
   networking model [RFC2810]: a chat service.  IRC clients are computer
   programs that a user can install on their system.  These clients
   communicate with chat servers to transfer messages to other clients.
   Features of IRC include: federated design, transport encryption, one-
   to-many routing, creation of topic-based "channels", and spam or
   abuse moderation.

   IRC servers may deploy different policies for the ability of users to
   create their own channels or 'rooms', and for the delegation of
   'operator'-rights in such spaces.  Some IRC servers support SSL/TLS
   connections for security purposes [RFC7194] which helps stop the use
   of packet sniffer programs to obtain the passwords of IRC users and
   barring an ISP or government from knowing which user I am on IRC, but
   has little use beyond this scope due to the public nature of IRC
   channels.  TLS connections require both client and server support
   (that may require the user to install TLS binaries and IRC client
   specific patches or modules on their computers).  Some networks also
   use TLS for server to server connections, and provide a special
   channel flag (such as +S) to only allow TLS-connected users on the
   channel, while disallowing operator identification in clear text, to
   better utilize the advantages that TLS provides.

   For the purposes of civic participation and freedom of association
   and assembly in particular, it is critical that IRC's federated
   design allows many interoperable, yet customisable, instances and
   basic assurance of confidentiality through transport encryption.  IRC
   differs from email in the sense that it allows for real-time
   interaction, stimulating the sense of conversation.  This allows
   people to organize, develop ideas as well as joint identities.  This
   is strengthened through the federated nature of IRC, which gives
   users the ability to use and connect through different servers,
   contributing to freedom of association.  We investigate the
   particular aspect of agency in membership through moderation in the
   section 'Block Together Now: IRC and Refusals' below.

6.3.4.  WebRTC

   Multi-party video conferencing protocols like WebRTC [RFC6176]
   [RFC7118] allow for robust, bandwidth-adaptive, wideband and super-
   wideband video and audio discussions in groups.  This facilitates
   exchanges over the Internet in a similar manner to IRC, but including
   the usage of audio and video.  WebRTC can be configured as direct
   peer-to-peer videochat without sending data through a central server.
   This ability to function without a central server is a strong

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   facilitator of freedom of association and assembly.

   However, WebRTC comes with many different configuration options,
   which can leave users open to unexpected privacy leakages:

   ‘The WebRTC protocol was designed to enable responsive real-time
   communications over the Internet, and is instrumental in
   allowing streaming video and conferencing applications to run in
   the browser. In order to easily facilitate direct connections
   between computers (bypassing the need for a central server to act
   as a gatekeeper), WebRTC provides functionality to automatically
   collect the local and public IP addresses of Internet users (ICE
   or STUN). These functions do not require consent from the user,
   and can be instantiated by sites that a user visits without their
   awareness. The potential privacy implications of this aspect of
   WebRTC are well documented, and certain browsers have provided
   options to limit its behavior.’


   Even though some multi-party video conferencing tools facilitate
   freedom of assembly and association, their own configuration might
   pose concrete risks for those who use them.  On the one hand WebRTC
   is providing resilient channels of communications, but on the other
   hand it also exposes information about those who are using the tool
   which might lead to increased surveillance, identification and the
   consequences that might be derived from that.  This is especially
   concerning because the usage of a VPN does not protect against the
   exposure of IP addresses [Crawford].

   The risk of surveillance also exists in offline spaces, but may
   generally be easier to analyze for the user.  Security and privacy
   expectations of the user could be either improved or made explicit.
   This in turn would result in a more secure and private exercise of
   the right to freedom of assembly or association.

6.3.5.  Peer-to-peer networking

   Since the ARPANET project, the original idea behind the Internet was
   conceived as what we would now call a peer-to-peer system [RFC0001].
   Over time it has increasingly shifted towards a client/server model
   with "millions of consumer clients communicating with a relatively
   privileged set of servers" [NelsonHedlun].  However, the foundational
   networking protocol of the modern Internet, the Border Gateway
   Protocol [RFC1163] [RFC1164] [RFC4271], still functions like original
   peer to peer network, with an extensive practice of peering and
   transit [MeierHahn2015].  For an example higher up the stack one
   could look at the peer-to-peer architecture of BitTorrent [RFC5694].

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   At the organizational level, peer production is one of the most
   relevant innovations from Internet mediated social practices.
   According to [Benkler] these networks imply "open collaborative
   innovation and creation, performed by diverse, decentralized groups
   organized principally by neither price signals nor organizational
   hierarchy, harnessing heterogeneous motivations, and governed and
   managed based on principles other than the residual authority of
   ownership implemented through contract."

   In his book The Wealth of Networks, [Benkler2] significantly expands
   on his definition of commons-based peer production.  In his view,
   what distinguishes commons-based production is that it doesn't rely
   upon or propagate proprietary knowledge: "The inputs and outputs of
   the process are shared, freely or conditionally, in an institutional
   form that leaves them equally available for all to use as they choose
   at their individual discretion."  To ensure that the knowledge
   generated is available for free use, commons-based projects are often
   shared under an open license

   Peer-to-peer (P2P) is essentially a model of how people interact in
   real life because "we deal directly with one another whenever we wish
   to" [Vu].  Usually if we need something we ask our peers, who in turn
   refer us to other peers.  In this sense, the ideal definition of P2P
   is that "nodes are able to directly exchange resources and services
   between themselves without the need for centralized servers" where
   each participating node typically acts both as a server and as a
   client [Vu].  [RFC5694] has defined the architecture as peers or
   nodes that should be able to communicate directly between themselves
   without passing intermediaries, and that the system should be self-
   organizing and have decentralized control.  With this in mind, the
   ultimate model of P2P is a completely decentralized system, which is
   more resistant to speech regulation, immune to single points of
   failure and has a higher performance and scalability.  Nonetheless,
   in practice some P2P systems are supported by centralized servers and
   some others have hybrid models where nodes are organized into two
   layers: the upper tier servers and the lower tier common nodes [Vu].

   Whether for resource sharing or data sharing, P2P systems enable
   freedom of assembly and association.  Not only do they allow for
   effective dissemination of information, but they also leverage
   computing resources and diminish the costs for the formation of open
   collectives at the network level.  At the same time, in completely
   decentralized systems the nodes are autonomous and can join or leave
   the network as they want.  This makes the system unpredictable: a
   resource might be only sometimes available, and some other resources
   might be missing or incomplete [Vu].  Lack of information might in
   turn make association or assembly more difficult.

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6.4.  Universal Access: The Web

   Does protocol development sufficiently consider usable and accessible
   formats and technologies appropriate for persons with different kinds
   of abilities?

6.4.1.  Accessibility

   The W3C has done significant work to ensure that the Web is
   accessible to people with diverse physical abilities [W3C].  For
   example, the implementation of accessibility standards helps people
   who have issues with seeing or rendering images to understand what
   the image depicts.  Making the Web more accessible for people with
   diverse physical abilities enables them to exercise their right to
   online assembly and association.  While there are accessibility
   standards implemented for the Web, this is less the case for the

6.4.2.  Internationalization

   The IETF uses English as its primary working language, both in its
   documentation and in its communication.  This is also the case for
   reference implementations.  It is estimated that roughly 20% of the
   Earth's population speaks English, whereas only 360 million speak
   English as their first language.  [RFC2277] states that
   '"Internationalization is for humans.  This means that protocols are
   not subject to internationalization; text strings are.", this implies
   that protocol developers, as well as people that work with protocols,
   are not people, or that protocol developers all speak English.  As a
   result, it may be significantly easier for people who have a command
   of the English language to become a protocol developer.  It could
   also lead to a divergence, with the development of separate protocols
   that are developed within large language communities that don't use
   English language or Latin script.  This makes it harder for people
   who seek to shape their own space of association and assembly on the
   Internet to do so.  Communities may therefore be driven to rely on
   proprietary and non-interoperable services, such as Facebook and
   Weibo, where use of their own script and language is supported.

   When Ramsey Nasser developed the Arabic programming language
   قلب (transliterated Qalb, Qlb and Alb) [Nasser] he
   called it "engineering performance art" instead of engineering,
   because he knew that his language would not work.  In part this is
   because historically programming tools used the ASCII character set,
   which encodes Latin characters and was based on the English language.
   Though modern tools use Unicode, there persist cultural biases in
   computer science and engineering down to the level of code.  Despite
   long significant efforts, it is still largely impossible to register

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   an email address in a language such as Devanagari, Arabic, or
   Chinese.  Even where possible, it is to be expected that there will
   be a significant failure rate in sending and receiving emails to and
   from other services.  This makes it harder for people who do not
   speak English and/or don't use the Latin script to exercise their
   freedom of association and assembly.

6.5.  Block Together Now: IRC and Refusals

   Can a protocol be designed to legitimately exclude someone
   from an association?

   Previously we spoke about the privacy protecting features of IRC that
   enable freedom of association and assembly, including transport
   security.  But now we turn to the ability to block users and
   effectively moderate discussions on IRC as a key feature of the
   technology that enables agency in membership, a key aspect of freedom
   of association and assembly.

   For order to be kept within the IRC network, special classes of users
   become "operators" and are allowed to perform general maintenance
   functions on the network: basic network tasks such as disconnecting
   (temporary or permanently) and reconnecting servers as needed
   [RFC2812].  One of the most controversial powers of operators is the
   ability to remove a user from the connected network by 'force', i.e.,
   operators are able to close the connection between any client and
   server [RFC2812].

   Moderation and de-federation can be a tool to uphold freedom of
   association and assembly, because it allows groups to have control
   over their own make up.  IRC servers may deploy different policies
   for the ability of users to create their own channels or 'rooms', and
   for the delegation of 'operator'-rights in such spaces.  However,
   these controls can also seriously hamper the ability of a group to
   get together.  Some argue that the low cost of creating a new group
   is a protection against this, however, this could lead to a
   repetition of crises of moderation of membership and speech.

7.  Conclusions: What can we learn from these case studies?

   Communities, collaboration and joint action lie at the heart of the
   Internet.  Even at a linguistic level, the words "networks" and
   "associations" are closely related.  Both are groups and assemblies
   of people who depend on "links" and "relationships" [Swire].  Taking
   legal definitions given in international human rights law and related
   normative documents, we can easily conclude that the rights to
   freedom of assembly and association protect collective activity
   online.  These rights protect gatherings by persons for a specific

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   purpose and groups with a defined aim over time for a variety of
   peaceful, expressive and non-expressive purposes, if and when
   participation is voluntary and uncoerced.

   Given that the Internet itself was originally designed as a medium of
   communication for machines that share resources with each other as
   equals [RFC0903], the Internet is now one of the most basic
   infrastructures for assembly and association.  Since Internet
   protocols and the Internet architecture play a central role in the
   management, development and use of the Internet, we established the
   relation between protocols and the right to freedom of assembly and

   After reviewing several cases representative of FAA considerations
   inherent in protocols standardized at the IETF, we can conclude that
   the way in which infrastructure is designed and implemented impacts
   people's ability to exercise their freedom of assembly and
   association.  This is because different technical designs come with
   different properties and characteristics.  These properties and
   characteristics on the one hand enable people to assemble and
   associate, but on the other hand also add limiting, or even
   potentially endangering, characteristics.  More often than not, this
   depends on the context.  A clearly identified group for open
   communications, where messages are sent in cleartext and where
   people's persistent identities are visible, can help to facilitate an
   assembly and build trust, but in other contexts the same
   configuration could pose a significant danger.  Endangering
   characteristics should be mitigated, or at least clearly communicated
   to the users of these technologies.  It is therefore recommended that
   the potential impacts of Internet technologies should be assessed,
   reflecting recommendations of various UN bodies and international

   Lastly, the increasing shift away from federated and interoperable
   messaging exchange towards closed platforms with non-interoperable
   chat and media-sharing functionality have a significant impact on the
   distributed and open nature of the use of the Internet.  Often these
   platforms are built on open protocols but do not allow for
   interoperability or data portability.  Future research could further
   investigate how the use of social media platforms has enabled
   individuals to associate in groups, but at the same time rendered
   those groups unable to change or transcend platforms, therefore
   leading to sorts of "bounded association" and "forced association"
   both of which inhibit people from fully exercising their freedom of
   assembly and association.

8.  Acknowledgements

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   *  Gisela Perez de Acha for co-authoring the first versions of this

   *  Fred Baker and Jefsey for work on Internet definitions.

   *  Stephane Bortzmeyer, ICNL, and Lisa Vermeer for several concrete
      text suggestions that found their way in this document.

   *  Mark Perkins and Gurshabad for finding a lot of typos.

   *  Nick Doty, Gurshabad Grover, an anonymous reviewer, ICNL, Lisa
      Vermeer, and Sandra Braman for full reviews.

   *  The hrpc mailinglist at large for a very constructive discussion
      on a hard topic.

   *  Efforts put in this document by Niels ten Oever were made possible
      through funding from the Ford Foundation, the Open Technology
      Fund, and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) through grant
      MVI.19.032 as part of the program 'Maatschappelijk Verantwoord
      Innoveren (MVI)'.

9.  Work Space

   Current work on this draft is happening at:
   HRPC/draft-association Pull requests and issues are welcome.

10.  Security Considerations

   As this draft concerns a research document, there are no security

11.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no actions for IANA.

12.  Research Group Information

   The discussion list for the IRTF Human Rights Protocol Considerations
   Research Group is located at the e-mail address
   (  Information on the group and information on
   how to subscribe to the list is at

   Archives of the list can be found at:
   archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html (

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13.  Informative References

   [Abbate]   Janet Abbate, ., "Inventing the Internet", Cambridge: MIT
              Press (2013): 11. , 2013,

              Ackerman, M.S., Karger, D.R., and A.X. Zhang, "Mailing
              Lists: Why Are They Still Here, What’s Wrong With Them,
              and How Can We Fix Them?", Mit. edu (2017): 1. , 2017,

              Anderson, C. and C. Guarnieri, "Fictitious Profiles and
              WebRTC's Privacy Leaks Used to Identify Iranian
              Activists", 2016,

   [APC]      Association for Progressive Communications and . Gayathry
              Venkiteswaran, "Freedom of assembly and association online
              in India, Malaysia and Pakistan. Trends, challenges and
              recommendations.", 2016,

   [APC3]     Association for Progressive Communications, "Closer than
              ever", 2020, <>.

              Sauter, D. and Association for Progressive Communications,
              "Multimedia training kit", 2013,

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              production transforms markets and freedom", New Haven and
              London - Yale University Press , 2006,

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              "Infrastructuring Environments", Science as Culture 25:1,
              1-22. , 2016.

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   [Bowker]   Bowker, G., "Information mythology and infrastructure",
              In: L. Bud (Ed.), Information Acumen: The Understanding
              and use of Knowledge in Modern
              Business,Routledge,London,1994,pp.231-247 , 1994.

   [CERD]     United Nations, "Convention on the Elimination of all
              forms of Racial Discrimination", 1966,

   [CoE]      Council of Europe, "Freedom of assembly and association on
              the Internet", 2015,

   [Crawford] Crawford, D., "The WebRTC VPN “Bug” and How to Fix", 2015,

   [CRC]      Wikipedia, ., "Lorum", 2000,

   [CRPD]     United Nations, "Convention on the Rights of Persons with
              Disabilities", 2007,

   [FoAdef]   Wikipedia, "Freedom of association", 2021,

   [Glasius]  Glasius, M., Schalk, J., and M. De Lange, "Illiberal Norm
              Diffusion: How Do Governments Learn to Restrict
              Nongovernmental Organizations?", 2020,

              Hafnerand, K. and M. Lyon, "Where Wizards Stay Up Late.
              The Origins of the Internet", First Touchstone Edition
              (1998): 93. , 1998, <>.

              Human Rights Protocol Consideration RG, ., "Charter for
              Research Group", 2015,

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              Hussain, M.M. and P.N. Howard, "What Best Explains
              Successful Protest Cascades? ICTs and the Fuzzy Causes of
              the Arab Spring", Int Stud Rev (2013) 15 (1): 48-66. ,
              2013, <>.

   [ICCPR]    United Nations General Assembly, "International Covenant
              on Civil and Political Rights", 1966,

   [Kaye]     Kaye, D., "The use of encryption and anonymity in digital
              communications", 2015,

   [Loi]      Loi, M. and M. Christen, "Two Concepts of Group Privacy",
              2020, <

              Mainwaring, S.D., Chang, M.F., and K. Anderson,
              "Infrastructures and Their Discontents: Implications for
              Ubicomp", DBLP Conference: Conference: UbiComp 2004:
              Ubiquitous Computing: 6th International Conference,
              Nottingham, UK, September 7-10, 2004. Proceedings , 2004,

   [Marcus]   Marcus, J., "Commercial Speech on the Internet: Spam and
              the first amendment", 1998, <

              Uta Meier-Hahn, ., "Creating connectivity: trust, distrust
              and social microstructures at the core of the internet",
              2015, <

   [Nasser]   Nasser, R., "&#1602;&#1604;&#1576;", 2013,

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              Minar, N. and M. Hedlun, "A Network of Peers: Models
              Through the History of the Internet", Peer to Peer:
              Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies, ed: Andy
              Oram , 2001, <

   [Nyokabi]  Nyokabi, D.M., Diallo, N., Ntesang, N.W., White, T.K., and
              T. Ilori, "The right to development and internet
              shutdowns: Assessing the role of information and
              communications technology in democratic development in
              Africa", 2019,

   [Pensado]  Jaime Pensado, ., "Student Activism. Utopian Dreams.",
              ReVista. Harvard Review of Latin America (2012). , 2012,

              Pipek, V. and W. Wolf, "Infrastructuring: Towards an
              Integrated Perspective on the Design and Use of
              Information Technology", Journal of the Association for
              Information Systems (10) 5, pp. 306-332 , 2009.

   [RFC0001]  Crocker, S., "Host Software", RFC 1, DOI 10.17487/RFC0001,
              April 1969, <>.

   [RFC0155]  North, J., "ARPA Network mailing lists", RFC 155,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC0155, May 1971,

   [RFC0903]  Finlayson, R., Mann, T., Mogul, J., and M. Theimer, "A
              Reverse Address Resolution Protocol", STD 38, RFC 903,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC0903, June 1984,

   [RFC1163]  Lougheed, K. and Y. Rekhter, "Border Gateway Protocol
              (BGP)", RFC 1163, DOI 10.17487/RFC1163, June 1990,

   [RFC1164]  Honig, J., Katz, D., Mathis, M., Rekhter, Y., and J. Yu,
              "Application of the Border Gateway Protocol in the
              Internet", RFC 1164, DOI 10.17487/RFC1164, June 1990,

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   [RFC1211]  Westine, A. and J. Postel, "Problems with the maintenance
              of large mailing lists", RFC 1211, DOI 10.17487/RFC1211,
              March 1991, <>.

   [RFC1771]  Rekhter, Y. and T. Li, "A Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-
              4)", RFC 1771, DOI 10.17487/RFC1771, March 1995,

   [RFC1930]  Hawkinson, J. and T. Bates, "Guidelines for creation,
              selection, and registration of an Autonomous System (AS)",
              BCP 6, RFC 1930, DOI 10.17487/RFC1930, March 1996,

   [RFC1958]  Carpenter, B., Ed., "Architectural Principles of the
              Internet", RFC 1958, DOI 10.17487/RFC1958, June 1996,

   [RFC2277]  Alvestrand, H., "IETF Policy on Character Sets and
              Languages", BCP 18, RFC 2277, DOI 10.17487/RFC2277,
              January 1998, <>.

   [RFC2810]  Kalt, C., "Internet Relay Chat: Architecture", RFC 2810,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2810, April 2000,

   [RFC2812]  Kalt, C., "Internet Relay Chat: Client Protocol",
              RFC 2812, DOI 10.17487/RFC2812, April 2000,

   [RFC3233]  Hoffman, P. and S. Bradner, "Defining the IETF", BCP 58,
              RFC 3233, DOI 10.17487/RFC3233, February 2002,

   [RFC4084]  Klensin, J., "Terminology for Describing Internet
              Connectivity", BCP 104, RFC 4084, DOI 10.17487/RFC4084,
              May 2005, <>.

   [RFC4271]  Rekhter, Y., Ed., Li, T., Ed., and S. Hares, Ed., "A
              Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)", RFC 4271,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4271, January 2006,

   [RFC4880]  Callas, J., Donnerhacke, L., Finney, H., Shaw, D., and R.
              Thayer, "OpenPGP Message Format", RFC 4880,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4880, November 2007,

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   [RFC5694]  Camarillo, G., Ed. and IAB, "Peer-to-Peer (P2P)
              Architecture: Definition, Taxonomies, Examples, and
              Applicability", RFC 5694, DOI 10.17487/RFC5694, November
              2009, <>.

   [RFC5751]  Ramsdell, B. and S. Turner, "Secure/Multipurpose Internet
              Mail Extensions (S/MIME) Version 3.2 Message
              Specification", RFC 5751, DOI 10.17487/RFC5751, January
              2010, <>.

   [RFC6176]  Turner, S. and T. Polk, "Prohibiting Secure Sockets Layer
              (SSL) Version 2.0", RFC 6176, DOI 10.17487/RFC6176, March
              2011, <>.

   [RFC7118]  Baz Castillo, I., Millan Villegas, J., and V. Pascual,
              "The WebSocket Protocol as a Transport for the Session
              Initiation Protocol (SIP)", RFC 7118,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7118, January 2014,

   [RFC7194]  Hartmann, R., "Default Port for Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
              via TLS/SSL", RFC 7194, DOI 10.17487/RFC7194, August 2014,

   [RFC8280]  ten Oever, N. and C. Cath, "Research into Human Rights
              Protocol Considerations", RFC 8280, DOI 10.17487/RFC8280,
              October 2017, <>.

              Rutzen, D. and J. Zenn, "Association and Assembly in the
              Digital Age", The International Journal of Not-for-Profit
              Law, Volume 13, Issue 4 , December 2011.

   [Sauter]   Sauter, M., "The Coming Swarm", Bloomsbury , 2014.

              Nadir, "Schleuder - A gpg-enabled mailinglist with
              remailing-capabilities.", 2017,

   [Stanford] Brownlee, K. and D. Jenkins, "Freedom of Association",

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   [Swire]    Peter Swire, ., "Social Networks, Privacy, and Freedom of
              Association: Data Empowerment vs. Data Protection", North
              Carolina Law Review (2012) 90 (1): 104. , 2012,
              < or

              Troncoso, C., Isaakdis, M., Danezis, G., and H. Halpin,
              "Systematizing Decentralization and Privacy: Lessons from
              15 Years of Research and Deployments", Proceedings on
              Privacy Enhancing Technologies ; 2017 (4):307-329 , 2017,

   [UDHR]     United Nations General Assembly, "The Universal
              Declaration of Human Rights", 1948,

   [UNGA]     Hina Jilani, ., "Human rights defenders", A/59/401 , 2004,
              view_doc.asp?symbol=A/59/401 para. 46>.

   [UNGC37]   United Nations Human Rights Committee, "Human Rights
              Committee “General comment No. 37 (2020) on the right of
              peaceful assembly (article 21)”, CCPR/C/GC/3", 2020,

   [UNGPBHR]  United Nations, "Guiding Principles on Business and Human
              Rights", 2011,

              United Nations Human Rights Council, "UN Human Rights
              Council Resolution 'The promotion, protection and
              enjoyment of human rights on the Internet' (A/HRC/32/
              L.20)", 2016,

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              Michelle Bachelet, . and United Nations, "Impact of new
              technologies on the promotion and protection of human
              rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful
              protests. Report of the United Nations High Commissioner
              for Human Rights A/HRC/44/24, 2020", 2000,

              Clément Voule, . and United Nations, "Report of the
              Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful
              assembly and of association", 2019,

              Maina Kiai, . and United Nations, "Report of the Special
              Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly
              and of association", A/HRC/20/27", 2012,

              United Nations, "Vienna Declaration and Programme of
              Action", 1993,

   [Vu]       Vu, Quang Hieu, ., Lupu, Mihai, ., and . Ooi, Beng Chin,
              "Peer-to-Peer Computing: Principles and Applications",
              2010, <>.

   [W3C]      W3C, "Accessibility", 2015,

Authors' Addresses

   Niels ten Oever
   University of Amsterdam

   Stéphane Couture
   Université de Montréal

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   Mallory Knodel
   Center for Democracy & Technology

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