IETF113 Conference Report: Tuesday March 22, 2022

Day two of the 113th IETF meeting, in Vienna Austria. The crisis in Ukraine is on everyone’s mind, lending immediacy to the work of the Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) Research Group. While past and continuing work has focused on Internet access for the world’s population (especially those disadvantaged by economics, distance, mobility, and social constraints) the situation in Ukraine resulting from military activities give cause for both concern and hope. While communications access points have been obviously targeted, the inherently decentralized topology of the Internet infrastructure in Ukraine has afforded surprising resiliency, increased by the willingness of nominal competitors to patch the communication systems back together for the good of all. Few will remember that this resiliency from military attack was the raison d’être for ARPANet, predecessor to the Internet. Perhaps, in this era of increasing centralization (hardware and software), the crisis in Ukraine will give us the impetus to consider changes to the trajectory of consolidation we’ve allowed to occur. We’ll follow up on this topic tomorrow after the Human Rights Protocol Considerations (HRPC) Research Group who will take up the topic of Regional Internet Blocking.

Another important consideration from today’s GAIA presentations: the environmental impact of decisions we make about the architecture of the Internet. While it’s easy to trash cryptocurrency for its unfathomable consumption of electricity (live dashboard here), it’s almost certainly necessary to think about these same considerations in the work of the IETF, impacting as it does, billions of people on a daily basis.