Net of Rights

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Session Description

Screening and online launch of the film Net of Rights, a 15 min short documentary film that explores the relation within Internet protocols and the promotion and protection of Human Rights from the point of view of several engineers that participate in the work of the Internet Engineer Task Force - IETF.

The Internet aspires to be the global network of networks, providing connectivity for all users, at all times, for any content. Connectivity increases the capacity for individuals to exercise their rights, therefore, for some, it would mean that the architectural design of the Internet is intertwined with the promotion and protection of some fundamental Human Rights. On the other hand, statements considering that the design of standards and protocols is a neutral task are also still common. Nevertheless, the series of interviews recorded during the 92nd meeting of the Internet Engineer Task Force - IETF, held in Dallas, Texas, in March 2015, have shown us this argument of neutrality is slightly dissolving. It is becoming more evident that promoting an open, secure and reliable connectivity is essential for the rights to privacy, expression and assembly. But how can these concepts addressed on the protocol level?

Without a proper definition for this question, the human rights-enabling characteristics of the Internet are at risk. While the Internet was designed with freedom and openness of communications as core values, as the grown in scale and commercialization of the Internet have proven to provide a shift in those core values that lead to its development. Therefore the rights-enabling technical characteristics of the Internet will be increasingly endangered if they are not properly defined, described and protected as such. And, indeed, the other way around: by not protecting these characteristics, we risk loss of functionality and connectivity in the architecture of the Internet itself.

Developed in partnership between Coding Rights and Article 19 , the movie had the purpose to highlight the importance to address this issue within technical community and human rights advocates, but also to feed into the work of the Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research group (HRPC). Held under the Internet Research Task Force - IRTF, this group is currently addressing the new research challenge to develop a consistent methodology and map the relation between human rights and internet protocols, in order to help ensuring the survival of a decentralized and collaborative Internet, in which freedom of expression through unimpeded connectivity remains a central principle, and a guiding force.


Net of Rights Film Screening
Presenter/s Joana Varon, Coding Rights
Kaveh Azarhoosh, Article 19

Session Comments

If anyone is intrested in planning a screening of Net of Rights please contact my colleagues Niels (Niels[at]article19.org and Corinne (corinne[at]article19.org) at ARTICLE 19 who would be able to help you to arrange speakers for Q&A if possible.