Context for Collaborative Security: RFC 7754 Blocking and Filtering

Posted on July 6th, 2016

Context for Collaborative Security RFC 7754 Blocking and FilteringImage: Sergey Nivens

There can be any number of reasons any party may choose to block and/or filter certain content on the Internet, from blocking pop-up ads, to protecting proprietary information to preventing illegal activity. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) recently published RFC 7754 – Technical Considerations for Internet Service Blocking and Filtering, which provides advice on how to go from blocking and filtering policies to technological adoption.

Olaf Kolkman, Chief Internet Technology Officer of The Internet Society (ISOC) examined the issue of blocking and filtering on the Internet within the context of ISOC’s Collaborative Security framework on the ISOC blog. Kolkman outlines each of principles in terms of how they can inform the policy to technology implementation. Read more about the guiding principles of Collaborative Security here.

  1. Foster Confidence and Protect Opportunities: when blocking or filtering content policies are implemented, there must be transparency regarding said policies, as well as an understanding that the implementation will “not negatively impact the opportunities of those not directly involved.” This transparency should foster confidence and collaboration in adhering to the policies.
  2. Collective Responsibility: as Internet users, there is a shared responsibility towards the system as a whole and some blocking and filtering techniques “may adversely impact the way the Internet is collectively managed” either during technology implementation or in secondary impacts.
  3. Fundamental Properties and Values: solutions should honor basic human rights and preserve the fundamental properties of the Internet, the Internet Invariants, “features of the technical architecture that, if impacted significantly and long term, would adversely shape the course of its future.”
  4. Evolution and Consensus: Effective security must take into account the evolutionary qualities of both the policy requirements and implementation methods. Kolkman states that “The technology-neutral expression of the policy requirement needs to involve a broad set of stakeholders and should include technological specialists in order to assure there are no side effects negatively impacting other key aspects mentioned here.”
  5. Think Globally, act Locally: to find the most impactful solution, there must be voluntary self-organization. Blocking and filtering on a presumed local level can still have global impacts. By thinking on a larger scale, organizations can provide minimal global impact.

While RCF 7754 provides advice that can help to address some of the aforementioned aspects, it concludes that there is no best way to perform blocking and filtering. Each situation needs to be reviewed within the context of the situation, the content in question, while questioning if the societal costs are too high.

To that end, Kolkman argues that, in some cases, technology may not be the best way to implement these types of policies. He concludes his post by urging the internet community to “Think Globally, act locally, but also think creatively and act collaboratively.”

Both IAB and ISOC are affirming partners of the OpenStand Principles.  The guiding principles of Collaborative Security align with those of OpenStand, supporting and advocating for open standards development approaches to cybersecurity with specific regard to cooperation and collective empowerment. Respectful cooperation among standards organizations is critical as the development community commits to the development of standards that best support the needs of the global community.

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