Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group         N. ten Oever
Internet-Draft                                   University of Amsterdam
Intended status: Informational                          G. Perez de Acha
Expires: September 21, 2018                           Derechos Digitales
                                                          March 20, 2018

                 Freedom of Association on the Internet


   This document scopes the relation between Internet protocols and the
   right to freedom of assembly and association.  Increasingly, the
   Internet mediates our lives, our relationships and our ability to
   exercise our human rights.  The Internet provides a global public
   space, but one that is built predominantly on private infrastructure.
   Since Internet protocols play a central role in the management,
   development and use of the Internet, the relation between protocols
   and the aforementioned rights should be documented and any adverse
   impacts of this relation should be mitigated.

Status of This Memo

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   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 21, 2018.

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   publication of this document.  Please review these documents

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   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Vocabulary used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Research questions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Cases and examples  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     6.1.  Conversing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       6.1.1.  Mailing Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       6.1.2.  Multi-party video conferencing and risks  . . . . . .   8
       6.1.3.  Internet Relay Chat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     6.2.  Peer-to-peer networks and systems . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       6.2.1.  Peer-to-peer system achitectures  . . . . . . . . . .  10
       6.2.2.  Version control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     6.3.  Grouping together (identities)  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       6.3.1.  DNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       6.3.2.  ASes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   7.  Discussion: Protocols vs Platforms  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   8.  Discussion: The Internet as an association  . . . . . . . . .  14
   9.  Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   10. Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   11. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   12. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   13. Research Group Information  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   14. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     14.1.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     14.2.  URIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23

1.  Introduction

   "We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us." 
       -- John Culkin (1967)

   The Internet is a technology which shapes modern information
   societies.  The ordering that the Internet provides is socio-
   technical, in other words, the Internet infrastructure and
   architecture consists of social and technological arrangements
   [StarRuhleder].  This ordering is not always apparent because
   infrastructure also tends to hide itself in the societal woodwork
   [Mosco], or with [Weiser]: 'The most profound technologies are those

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   that disappear'.  Next to that infrastructure is often taken for
   granted by those using it.  Infrastructure therefore is mostly known
   by an epistemic community of experts [Haas] and only get recognized
   by the larger public when it fails.  With the increasing societal use
   of the Internet the importance of the Internet is growing, and the
   decisions made about its infrastructure and architecture therefore
   also become more important.  [RFC8280] established the relationship
   between human rights and Internet protocols, and in this document we
   seek to uncover the relation between two specific human rights and
   the Internet infrastructure and architecture.

   The rights to freedom of assembly and association protect collective
   expression, in turn, systems and protocols that enable communal
   communication between people and servers allow these rights to
   prosper.  The Internet itself was originally designed as "a medium of
   communication for machines that share resources with each other as
   equals" [NelsonHedlun], the Internet thus forms a basic
   infrastructure for the right freedom of assembly and association.

   The manner in which communication is designed and implemented impacts
   the ways in which rights can be excercised.  For instance a
   decentralized and resilient architecture that protects anonymity and
   privacy, offers a strong protection for the exercise of such freedoms
   in the online environment.  At the same time, centralized solutions
   have enabled people to group together in recognizable places and
   helped the visbility of groups.  In other words, different
   architectural designs come with different affordances, or
   characteristics.  These characteristics should be taken into account
   at the time of design, and when designing, updating and maintaining
   other parts of the architecture and infrastructure.

   This draft continues the work started in [RFC8280] by investigating
   the exact impact of Internet protocols on specific human rights,
   namely the right to freedom of assembly and association given their
   importance for the Internet, in order to mitigate (potential)
   negative impacts.

2.  Vocabulary used

   Architecture  The design of a structure

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

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      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

   Data portability  The ability to export ones data from a database in
      a format that is compatible with other databases.

   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.

3.  Research questions

   1.  How does the internet architecture enable and/or inhibit freedom
       of association and assembly?

   2.  If the Internet is used to exercise the right to freedom of
       association, what are the implications for its architecture and

4.  Methodology

   In order to answer the research questions, first a number of cases
   have been collected to analyze where Internet infrastructure and
   protocols have either enabled or inhibited groups of people to
   collaborate, cooperate or communicate.  This overview does not aim to
   cover all possible ways in which people can collectively organize or
   reach out to each other using Internet infrastructure and Internet
   protocols, but rather cover typical uses in an attempt at an an
   ethnography of infrastructure [Star].  Subsequently we analyze the
   cases with the theoretical framework provided in the literature
   review and provide recommendations based on the findings.

5.  Literature Review

   The rights to freedom of assembly and association protects and
   enables collective action and expression [UDHR] [ICCPR].  These
   rights ensure everyone in a society has the opportunity to express
   the opinions they hold in common with others, which in turn
   facilitates dialogue among citizens, as well as with political
   leaders or governments [OSCE].  This is relevant because in the
   process of democratic delibration, causes and opinions are more
   widely heard when a group of people come together behind the same
   cause or issue [Tocqueville].

   In international law, the rights to freedom of assembly and
   association protect any collective, gathered either permanently or
   temporarily for "peaceful" purposes.  We will later expand on the
   definitions and limits of "peacefulness" within these rights.  For
   now it is important to underline the property of "freedom" because

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   the right to freedom of association and assembly are 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.

   The difference between freedom of assembly and freedom of association
   is merely gradual one: the former tends to have an informal and
   ephemeral nature, whereas the latter refers to established and
   permanent bodies with specific objectives.  Nonetheless, one and the
   other are protected to the same degree.

   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
   [UNHRC].  Association on the other hand has a more formal and
   established nature.  It refers to a group of individuals or legal
   entities brought together in order to collectively act, express,
   pursue or defend a field of common interests [UNGA].  Within this
   category we can think about civil society organizations, clubs,
   cooperatives, NGOs, religious associations, political parties, trade
   unions or foundations.

   The right to freedom of assembly and association is quintessential
   for the Internet, even if privacy and freedom of expression are the
   most discussed human rights when it comes to the online world.
   Online association and assembly are crucial to mobilise groups and
   people where physical gatherings have been impossible or dangerous
   [APC].  Throughout the world -from the Arab Spring to Latin American
   student movements- the Internet has also played a crucial role by
   providing a means for the fast dissemination of information that was
   otherwise mediated by broadcast media, or even forbidden by the
   government [Pensado].  According to Hussain and Howard the Internet
   helped to "build solidarity networks and identification of collective
   identities and goals, extend the range of local coverage to
   international broadcast networks" and as platform for contestation
   for "the future of civil society and information infrastructure"

   The IETF itself, defined as a 'open global community' of network
   designers, operators, vendors, and researchers, is also protected by
   freedom of assembly and association [RFC3233].  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 network
   users [HafnerandLyon].

   We are aware that some of these examples go beyond the use of
   Internet protocols and flow over into the applications layer or

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   examples in the offline world whereas the purpose of the following
   document is to break down the relationship between Internet protocols
   and the right to freedom of assembly and association.  Nonetheless,
   given that protocols are a part of the socio-technical ordering of
   reality, we do recognize that in some cases the line between them and
   applications, implementations, policies and offline realities are
   often blurred and hard (if not impossible) to differentiate.

6.  Cases and examples

   The Internet has become a central mediator for collective action and
   collaboration.  This means the Internet has become a strong enabler
   of the rights to freedom of association and assembly.

   Here we will discuss different cases to give an overview of how the
   Internet protocol and architecture facilitates the freedom of
   assembly and association.

6.1.  Conversing

   +An interactive conversation between two or more people forms the
   basis for people to organize and associate.  According to Anderson
   "the relationship between political conversation and engagement in
   the democratic process is strong."  [Anderson].  By this definition,
   what defines the "political" is essentially assembly or association:
   a basis for the development of social cohesion in society.

6.1.1.  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 after, mailing lists are pervasive and help communities to
   engage, have discussion, share information, ask questions, and build
   ties.  Even as social media and discussion forums grow, mailing lists
   continue to be widely used [AckermannKargerZhang].  They are a
   crucial tool to organise groups and individuals around themes and
   causes [APC].

   Mailinglist are still in wide use, also in the IETF because they
   allow for easy association and allow people to subscribe (join) and

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   unsubscribe (leave) as they please.  They also allow for association
   of specific groups on closed lists.  Finally the archival function
   allows for accountabilty.  The downsides of mailinglists are similar
   to the ones generally associated with e-mail, except that end-to-end
   encryption such as OpenPGP [RFC4880] and S/MIME [RFC5751] is not
   possible because the final recipients are not known.  There have been
   experimental solutions to address this issue such as Schleuder
   [Schleuder], but this has not been standardized or widely deployed.

6.1.2.  Multi-party video conferencing and risks

   Multi-party video conferencing protocols such as WebRTC [RFC6176]
   [RFC7118] allow for robust, bandwidth-adaptive, wideband and super-
   wideband video and audio discussions in groups.  '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.'

   While facilitating freedom of assembly and association multi-party
   video conferencing tools might pose concrete risks for those who use
   them.  One 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

   The risk of surveillance is also true in an offline space, but this
   is generally easy to analyze for the end-user.  Security and privacy
   expectations of the end-user could be made more clear to the user (or
   improved) which would result in a more secure and/or private
   excercise of the right to freedom of assembly or association.

6.1.3.  Internet Relay Chat

   Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application layer protocol that
   enables communication in the form of text through a a client/server
   networking model [RFC2810].  In other words, a chat service.  IRC

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   clients are computer programs that a user can install on their
   system.  These clients communicate with chat servers to transfer
   messages to other clients.

   For order to be kept within the IRC network, special clases 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 power 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].

   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 a room.  Some IRC servers support SSL/TLS
   connections for security purposes [RFC7194].  This helps stop the use
   of packet sniffer programs to obtain the passwords of IRC users, 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.

6.2.  Peer-to-peer networks and systems

   At the organizational level, peer production is one of the most
   relevant innovations from Internet mediated social practices.
   According to [Benkler], it implies '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.'  [Benkler].

   In his book The Wealth of Networks, Benkler significantly expands on
   his definition of commons-based peer production.  According to
   Benkler, 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."  [Benkler] To ensure
   that the knowledge generated is available for free use, commons-based
   projects are often shared under an open license.

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6.2.1.  Peer-to-peer system achitectures

   Peer-to-peer (P2P) is esentially 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" and
   where each participating node typically acts both as a server and as
   a client [Vu].  In RFC 5694 P2P has been defined 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 [RFC5694].  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 have 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].

   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
   priviledged set of servers" [NelsonHedlun].

   Whether for resource sharing or data sharing, P2P systems are
   enabling freedom of assembly and association.  Not only do they allow
   for effective dissemination of information, but because they leverage
   computing resources by diminishing costs allowing 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, which also makes the system
   unpredicable: 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

   Additionally, when one architecturally asseses the role of P2P
   systems one can say that: "The main advantage of centralized P2P
   systems is that they are able to provide a quick and reliable
   resource locating.  Their limitation, however, is that the
   scalability of the systems is affected by the use of servers.  While
   decentralized P2P systems are better than centralized P2P systems in
   this aspect, they require a longer time in resource locating.  As a
   result, hybrid P2P systems have been introduced to take advantage of
   both centralized and decentralized architectures.  Basically, to

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   maintain the scalability, similar to decentralized P2P systems, there
   are no servers in hybrid P2P systems.  However, peer nodes that are
   more powerful than others can be selected to act as servers to serve
   others.  These nodes are often called super peers.  In this way,
   resource locating can be done by both decentralized search techniques
   and centralized search techniques (asking super peers), and hence the
   systems benefit from the search techniques of centralized P2P
   systems."  [Vu]

6.2.2.  Version control

   Ever since developers needed to collaboratively write, maintain and
   discuss large code basis for the Internet there have been different
   approaches of doing so.  One approach is discussing code through
   mailing lists, but this has proven to be hard in case of maintaining
   the most recent versions.  There are many different versions and
   characteristics of version control systems.

   A version control system is a piece of software that enables
   developers on a software team to work together and also archive a
   complete history of their work [Sink].  This allows teams to be
   working simultaneously on updated versions.  According to Sink,
   broadly speaking, the history of version control tools can be
   dividied into three generations.  In the first one, concurrent
   development meant that only one person could be working on a file at
   a time.  The second generation tools permit simultaneous
   modifications as long as users merge the current revisions into their
   work before they are allowed to commit.  The third generation tools
   allow merge and commit to be separated [Sink].

   Interestingly no version control system has ever been standardized in
   the IETF whereas the version control systems like Subversion and Git
   are widely used within the community, as well as by working groups.
   There has been a spirited discussion on whether working groups should
   use centralized forms of the Git protocol, such as those offered by
   Gitlab or Github.  Proponents argue that this simplifies the workflow
   and allows for a more transparent workflow.  Opponents argue that the
   reliance on a centralized service which is not merely using the Git
   protocol, but also uses non-standardized options like an Issue-
   Tracker, makes the process less transparent and reliant on a third

   The IETF has not made a decision on the use of centralized instances
   of Git, such as Github or Gitlab.  There have been two efforts to
   standardize the workflow vis a vis these third party services, but
   these haven't come to fruition: [Wugh] [GithubIETF].

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6.3.  Grouping together (identities)

   Collective identities are also protected by freedom of association
   and assembly.  Acording to Melucci these are 'shared definitions
   produced by several interacting individuals who are concerned with
   the orientation of their action as well as the field of opportunities
   and constraints in which their action takes place.'  [Melucci] In
   this sense, assemblies and associations are an important base in the
   maintenance and development of culture, as well as preservation of
   minority identities [OSCE].

6.3.1.  DNS

   Domain names allow hosts to be identified by human parsable
   information.  Whereas an IP address might not be the expression of an
   identity, a domain name can be, and often is.  On the other hand the
   grouping of a certain identity under a specific domain or even a Top
   Level Domain brings about risks because connecting an identity to a
   hierarchically structured identifier systems creates a central attack
   surface.  Some of these risks are the surveillance of the services
   running on the domain, domain based censorship [RFC7754], or
   impersonation of the domain through DNS cache poisoning.  Several
   technologies have been developed in the IETF to mitigated these risks
   such as DNS over TLS [RFC7858], DNSSEC [RFC4033], and TLS [RFC5246].
   These mitigations would, when implemented, not make censorship
   impossible, but rather make it visible.  The use of a centralized
   authority always makes censorship through a registry or registrar
   possible, as well as by using a fake resolver or using proposed
   standards such as DNS Response Policy Zones [RPZ].

   The structuring of DNS as a hierarchical authority structure also
   brings about a specific characteristic, namely the possibility of
   centralized policy making vis a vis the management and operation of
   Top Level Domains, which is what (in part) happens at ICANN.  The
   impact of ICANN processes on human rights will not be discussed here.

6.3.2.  ASes

   In order for edge-users to connect to the Internet, they need to be
   connected to an Automous System (AS) which, in turn, has peering or
   transit relations with other AS'es.  This means that in the process
   of accessing the Internet, edge-users need to accept the policies and
   practices of the intermediary that provides them access to the other
   networks.  In other words, for users to be able to join the 'network
   of networks', they always need to connect through an intermediary.

   While accessing the Internet through an intermediary, the user is
   forced to accept the policies, practices and principles of a network.

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   This could impede the rights of the edge-user, depending on the
   implemented policies and practices on the network and how (if at all)
   they are communicated to them.  For example: filtering, blocking,
   extensive logging, slowing down connection or specific services, or
   other invasive practices that are not clearly communicated to the

   In some cases it also means that there is no other way for the edge-
   user to connect to the network of networks, and is thus forced into
   accepting the policies of a specific network, because it is not
   trivial for an edge-user to operate an AS and engage in peering
   relation with other ASes.  This design, combined with the increased
   importance of the Internet to make use of basic services, forces
   edge-user to engage in association with a specific network eventhough
   the user does not consent to the policies of the network.

   This is also true for the Border Gateway Protocol - the protocol that
   selects the route for traffic over the Internet.  Aside from
   significant security issues there is no transparency about the routes
   that packets have taken, and thus it is also unclear which ASes a
   packet has traversed.

7.  Discussion: Protocols vs Platforms

   The Internet is increasingly becoming a vehicle for commercial,
   propietary, non-interoperable platforms.  The Internet has always
   allowed for closed-off networks, but the current trend show the rise
   of a small number of very large non-interoperable platforms.  Chat
   has moved from XMPP and IRC to Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and
   WeChat and there has been a strong rise of social media networks with
   large numbers of users, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  A
   similar trend can be found among e-mail providers, with the
   significant difference that e-mail is interoperable.

   Often these non-interoperable platforms are built on open-protocols
   but do not allow for inter-operability or data-portability.  In the
   case of these large platforms this leads to strong network
   externalities, also know as a network effect; because the users are
   there, users will be there.  The use of social-media platforms has
   enabled groups to associate, but is has also led to a 'tactical
   freeze' because of the inability to change the platforms [Tufekci].
   Whereas these networks are a ready-to-hand networked public sphere,
   they do not allow their inhabitants to change, or fully understand,
   their workings.

   This potentially has a significant impact on the distributed nature
   of the Internet [RFC1287].

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8.  Discussion: The Internet as an association

   It is undeniable that communities, collaboration and joint action lie
   at the heart of the Internet.  Even at at linguistical level, the
   words "networks" and "associations" are close synonyms.  Both
   interconnected groups and assemblies of people depend on "links" and
   "relationships" [Swire].  Assemblies however have an inherently
   temporary nature, whereas associations do not.  Taking these
   definitions and the previous analysis into consideration, we argue
   that the Internet constitutes an association.  What are the
   implications of this?  Does it mean that every network is an assembly
   within the association and has absolute freedom to implement its own
   rules?  Or does the importance of a functioning 'larger' association
   (the Internet) prevail over the preferences of the smaller assemblies
   (individual AS'es)?  Or rather, is there a tipping point?  For
   instance if an operator (an AS) wants to filter a specific IP-range.
   Today, they can do it _technically_ (it is quite easy) and _legally_
   (their network, their rules, and, if it is done for good reasons, few
   people would complain). _But_ if everyone started to do it, to filter
   networks they don't like (or filtering TLDs they don't like in their
   DNS resolvers), then there would be a significant problem.  A
   minority of operators filtering a specific IP-range, and the Internet
   would still work and would still be "the Internet".  A majority of
   operators filtering a lot of networks they don't like and, at a
   point, this would no longer be the Internet.  This is a case where
   quantitative changes bring qualitative changes: too much filtering
   and we would no longer have a global network.  Despite the fact that
   each AS has the right to take decisions such as filtering, if
   everyone started to exercise this right fully, this would destroy the

   The demands that have been set for ASes are very limited and are
   based on routing principles: an AS must be used for exchanging
   external routing information with other ASes through BGP, should
   therefore use BGP and IP and have a routing policy [RFC1930].  So in
   order to be able to connect to the Internet as an AS, which means to
   engage in peering or transit relations, there are basic rules one
   needs to adhere to.  But these rules do not say anything on how the
   AS will or should treat traffic on its network.  If we take the
   example of ASes, we could say they are private infrastructures
   (therefore sovereign with the ability to set their own policies), but
   jointly they form a type of public infrastructure, from the moment
   the receive an Autonomous Systems Number.  But, even things that are
   private, need to live up to standards because they have public
   consequences.  Especially because specific behaviour of ASes can lead
   to vicious or virtuous circles.

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   The Internet is made of up interconnected ASes (one would argue that
   this doesn't include IXPs, but most modern IXPs will have an ASN for
   their route server, and possibly a separate ASN for their management
   infrastructure), which jointly form an association.  This association
   should be protected.  This means that rights and obligations that
   stems from this organizational form, should also be protected and

9.  Conclusions

   The Internet has an impact on the ability for people to exercise
   their right to freedom of association and assembly.  The Internet,
   since its inception has enabled people to jointly communicate,
   cooperate and collaborate.  The same could also be argued with
   relation to freedom of expression, some have argued that the text in
   article 19 of the [UDHR] reads like a description of the Internet:

   [the] freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,
   receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
   regardless of frontiers. {{UDHR}}

   The difference between freedom of expression and freedom of
   association and assembly is that the Internet itself takes the form
   on an association; it reproduces its features of collaboration.
   Recognizing this is a crucial step in determining architectural
   features of the Internet and its usage.

10.  Acknowledgements

   -  Fred Baker, Jefsey, and Andrew Sullivan for work on Internet

   -  Stephane Bortzmeyer for several concrete text suggestions that
      found their way in this document (such as the AS filtering

   -  Mark Perkins for finding a lot of typos

   -  the hrpc mailinglist at large for a very constructive discussion
      on a hard topic.

11.  Security Considerations

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

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12.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no actions for IANA.

13.  Research Group Information

   The discussion list for the IRTF Human Rights Protocol Considerations
   Research Group is located at the e-mail address [1].
   Information on the group and information on how to subscribe to the
   list is at [2]

   Archives of the list can be found at:
   archive/web/hrpc/current/index.html [3]

14.  References

14.1.  Informative References

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

   [Abibil]   Danchev, D., "Dissecting 'Operation Ababil' - an OSINT
              Analysis", 2012, <

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

              Andersson, E., "The political voice of young citizens
              Educational conditions for political conversation - school
              and social media", Utbildning & Demokrati: Tidskrift foer
              Didaktik och Utbildningspolitik, Volume 21, Number 1,
              2012, pp. 97-119(23) , 2012,

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

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

              ARTICLE 19, "The Right to Protest Principles: Background
              Paper", 2016,
              Protest-Background-paper-Final-April-2016.pdf page 7>.

   [BCP72]    IETF, "Guidelines for Writing RFC Text on Security
              Considerations", 2003,

   [Benkler]  Benkler, Y., "Peer Production and Cooperation", 2009,

              Blok, A., Nakazora, M., and B. Winthereik,
              "Infrastructuring Environments", Science as Culture 25:1,
              1-22. , 2016.

   [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.

              Crawford, D., "The WebRTC VPN "Bug" and How to Fix", 2015,

              Thomson, M. and A. Atlas, "Using GitHub at the IETF",

              Villeneuve, N., "Iran DDoS", 2009,

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   [Haas]     Haas, P., "Introduction: epistemic communities and
              international policy coordination", International
              Organization, special issue: Knowledge, Power, and
              International Policy Coordination, Cambridge Journals. 46
              (1): 1-35. , 1992.

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

              Hussain, M. and P. 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,

              Mainwaring, S., Chang, M., 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, <

   [Melucci]  Melucci, A., "The Process of Collective Identity", Temple
              University Press, Philadelphia , 1995.

   [Mosco]    Mosco, V., "The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and
              Cyberspace", 2005,

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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, <

   [OSCE]     OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights,
              "Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly", page 24 ,
              2010, <>.

   [Pariser]  Pariser, E., "The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized
              Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think", Peguin
              Books, London. , 2012.

   [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,

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

   [RFC1287]  Clark, D., Chapin, L., Cerf, V., Braden, R., and R. Hobby,
              "Towards the Future Internet Architecture", RFC 1287,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC1287, December 1991,

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

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   [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,

   [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,

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, DOI 10.17487/RFC4033, March 2005,

   [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,

   [RFC4949]  Shirey, R., "Internet Security Glossary, Version 2",
              FYI 36, RFC 4949, DOI 10.17487/RFC4949, August 2007,

   [RFC5246]  Dierks, T. and E. Rescorla, "The Transport Layer Security
              (TLS) Protocol Version 1.2", RFC 5246,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5246, August 2008,

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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, <>.

   [RFC6973]  Cooper, A., Tschofenig, H., Aboba, B., Peterson, J.,
              Morris, J., Hansen, M., and R. Smith, "Privacy
              Considerations for Internet Protocols", RFC 6973,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6973, July 2013,

   [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,

   [RFC7754]  Barnes, R., Cooper, A., Kolkman, O., Thaler, D., and E.
              Nordmark, "Technical Considerations for Internet Service
              Blocking and Filtering", RFC 7754, DOI 10.17487/RFC7754,
              March 2016, <>.

   [RFC7858]  Hu, Z., Zhu, L., Heidemann, J., Mankin, A., Wessels, D.,
              and P. Hoffman, "Specification for DNS over Transport
              Layer Security (TLS)", RFC 7858, DOI 10.17487/RFC7858, May
              2016, <>.

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

   [RPZ]      Vixie, P. and V. Schyver, "DNS Response Policy Zones
              (RPZ)", 2017,

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

   [Sink]     Sink, E., "Version Control by Example", 2011,

   [Star]     Star, S., "The Ethnography of Infrastructure", American
              Behavioral Scientist, Volume 43 (3), 377-391. , 1999,

              Star, S. and K. Ruhleder, "Steps toward an ecology of
              infrastructure: Design and access for large information
              spaces", Information Systems Research 7 (1) (1996)
              111-134. , 1996.

   [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

              de Tocqueville, A., "Democracy in America", 1840, <http://
              democracy_in_america_vol_2.pdf p. 304>.

              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,

   [Tufekci]  Tufekci, Z., "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and
              Fragility of Networked Protest", 2017,

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

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

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

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

   [Weiser]   Weiser, L., "The Computer for the 21st Century",
              Scientific American Ubicomp Paper after Sci Am editing ,
              1991, <

   [Weisser]  Weiser, M., "The computer for the 21st century",
              Scientific American 265 (3) p. 94-104. , 1991.

   [Wugh]     Nottingham, M., "Using Third Party Services for IETF
              Work", 2017, <

14.2.  URIs




Authors' Addresses

   Niels ten Oever
   University of Amsterdam


   Gisela Perez de Acha
   Derechos Digitales


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