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Cybersecurity & Standards

Behold the Technical Community’s Support for Internet Privacy

More than a decade ago, CDT began participating actively in Internet standards deliberations with the belief that critical choices affecting openness and privacy online are often decided in the process of standardization. Over the years we have defended these values in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the W3C, at times with the support of other participants, but more often in the face of opposition from corporate interests. We have fought many pitched standards battles over privacy in particular, aiming to bake stronger protections into the technologies that support geolocation, online tracking, user identification, and more.

The current enthusiasm within the technical community for shoring up privacy protections – spurred by the Snowden revelations – is therefore nothing short of breathtaking. At the IETF meeting earlier this month, participants expressed strong willingness to respond to pervasive surveillance by developing technical measures and guidance to make the Internet more secure and private. The security of nearly every major application and Internet building block is being re-examined: email, web browsing, instant messenger, voice over IP, DNS, IP addressing, traffic routing, and the list goes on and on. This is not mere lip service – major changes in how we encrypt, share, and route data are being discussed, and are receiving support from core Internet companies.

As a public interest advocate, this response from the technical community is a sight to behold. It is unfortunate that it had to come as a result of revelations of mass surveillance, but for anyone who cares about privacy on the Internet, this is a moment to seize. I will be doing so in my new role at Cisco, as CDT continues to harness the technical community’s energy to build a more private and secure Internet.