Internet Engineering Task Force Hearkens Orwellian Themes in RFC 1984

Posted on June 29th, 2016

Internet Engineering Task Force Hearkens Orwellian Themes in RFC 1984
Image: IETF

In the fall of last year, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an Affirming Partner of the OpenStand Principles, invited responses and input regarding a best practices model called RFC 1984. IETF chair was quick to note that, though the RFC does not directly concern the dystopian novel by George Orwell with which it shares a name, it does pertain to the Orwellian theme of unwanted surveillance.

RFC 1984 is inviting responses to its recommendation for “strong, cryptographic protection of [Internet] communications.” It reasons that the vulnerabilities of Internet communication can only be mitigated by giving users access to strong security tools that comply with widely adopted standards for web protocols. The IETF claims that the principles RFC 1984 (which was originally published in 1996) are still relevant for the web today.

IETF’s Security Area determined that, though now two decades old, RFC 1984 still adequately expresses the importance of widely accessible security tools for Internet communication. “The possibility of revising the text of RFC 1984 was discussed, but rejected because a) the current text is still fine, b) any changes we’d likely make now wouldn’t improve it significantly, c) affirming the continuity of the IETF’s position is valuable and even d) keeping the RFC number is worthwhile.”

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