The Open Web Platform’s Future Hinges on Standards Innovation & Collaboration

Posted on November 18th, 2015

As Internet technologies pour forth at a dizzying pace, keeping the Open Web at the forefront of innovation is an enormous challenge — and W3C is seeking to address it.

Image: Shutterstock, Minerva Studio

How is the current generation of Internet technologies advancing the Open Web Platform? This is the question that W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) contributor Philippe le Hegaret recently sought to address in his Web Applications column. According to Hegaret, tremendous work is being done to advance the Web Platform but there are many fronts that are still in need of sustained development. Among them, Hegaret suggests, are persistent background processing, frame rate performance data, and metadata associated with a web application or mitigating cross-site attacks, just to name a few. The deployment of HTML5 has been a tremendous boon for the Open Web Platform, but Hegaret insists that “it’s not quite there yet.”

Clearly, as Internet technologies continue to pour forth at a dizzying pace, keeping the Open Web at the forefront of innovation is an undeniably enormous challenge. The key to doing so successfully, Hegaret maintains, is putting the tools for Open Web development in the hands of the developers. HTML5 has gone significant lengths to do just that, providing open standards for the many web utilities that were previously developed using proprietary solutions, such as streaming video and embedded tool sets. Standards Development Organizations, such as the W3C (an affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles) have been contributing to the development of HTML libraries to give Web developers the tools they need to build out their own HTML elements. The idea here is that if the tools are open, extensible, and stable, developers won’t opt for proprietary plug-ins to deliver outstanding functionality to their users.

Two W3C development units, the Web Applications Working Group and the HTML Working Group, have found that their respective briefs have drifted closer and closer together over the years. This signifies HTML’s ability to evolve and adapt to the needs of the application developers to deliver outstanding functionality to their users. Regarding the convergence of the two W3C working groups, Hegaret said:

[W]e’re proposing the Web Platform Working Group as an interim group while discussion is ongoing regarding the proper modularization of HTML and its APIs. It enables the ongoing specifications to continue to move forward over the next 12 months. The second proposed group will [be] the Timed Media Working Group. The Web is increasingly used to share and consume timed media, especially video and audio, and we need to enhance these experiences by providing a good Web foundation to those uses, by supporting the work of the Audio and Web Real-Time Communications Working Groups.

Want to stay informed of all the latest news surrounding the Open Web Platform? Subscribe to the OpenStand blog! You can lend your voice to the conversation by leaving a comment or signing your name! Tell your friends about OpenStand and let’s work together to keep an interoperable and royalty-free Web for everyone!

Posted in News

ISOC Report Suggests Mobile Internet Is the Future of a Growing Web

Posted on November 11th, 2015

To Internet Society President and CEO Kathy Brown, mobile Internet access may hold the key to driving the next billion users to the Internet.

Image: Huffington Post

In the early days of networked computing systems, connectivity was reserved to special research departments in government and academia. From these meager beginnings, the Internet expanded into a global resource that is today utilized by more than three billion people. The far-reach of Internet connectivity has proven to be a significant building block for global economic development.

Today, hundreds of millions of users harness the power of the Internet wherever they go with mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, wearable devices and other Internet-capable tools. In our modern world, many people leverage their mobile devices as a primary (if not only) means of accessing the Internet.

To Internet Society President and CEO Kathy Brown, mobile Internet access may hold the key to driving the next billion users to the Internet. In a recent blog post, Brown suggests that the secret behind the transformative power of the Internet is its ability to connect anybody anywhere to the same set of resources.

“The rise of mobile will unleash the creativity and innovation of a whole new generation of Internet citizens, which will benefit all of us.”

The mobile Internet unleashes the free Internet from the confines of space and location. To address this phenomenon, Michael Kende, the Chief Economist for the Internet Society, has authored a report on mobile Internet usage around the globe, which brings some fascinating research to light.

The report teases out the implications of the increasing amount of Internet traffic from mobile platforms and paints a picture of how current mobile infrastructure must adapt in the face of growing demand. Brown responds, “If the next billion are coming online as a result of mobile, then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the technology does not limit them in any way. In particular, the mobile Internet should remain open to enable the permission-less innovation that has driven the continuous growth and evolution of the Internet to date, including the emergence of the mobile Internet itself.”

As mobile devices make dynamic new Internet resources available to more users, the task of keeping the Internet safe, stable, open and interoperable is of greater importance than ever. For decades, open standards that align to the OpenStand Principles have played a critical role in creating an open internet and driving open innovation. In the future open standards will serve as the essential building blocks for future development serving the expansive Internet community.   

As the global community weighs in on the future of the Internet, we encourage OpenStand Advocates to share OpenStand and the OpenStand principles with friends and colleagues, asserting their importance in the technology development that will impact our future Internet. To stand in support of the OpenStand principles, interested persons may:  

Posted in News

W3C Unveils New Geofencing API Spec

Posted on October 21st, 2015

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released a draft API (application programming interface) specification that is intended to promote standardization and interoperability in Geofencing.
Image: Shutterstock, zayats-and-zayats

Geofencing refers to the practice of using or creating a virtual perimeter that applies to a real-world geographic area. In terms of digital technology, geofencing can be used to control where objects are, and are not, allowed to go. For example, geofencing might be used to track packages that that are to be delivered along a particular route. It could be used to verify that rented vehicles are not transgressing a predetermined boundary. It could even be used in healthcare to ensure that patients with dementia do not accidentally leave the premises of their healthcare facility. It could be used to establish a perimeter within which a drone may be flown or landed.

Needless to say, geofencing has many potential applications in a broad spectrum of fields. It doesn’t take too much imagination to see the cost-saving potential (not to mention the increased utility) of geofencing applications being able to talk to each other. If there were an open standard that geofencing applications used, then intercooperation between applications could increase the reach of both without requiring either to expand their own infrastructure.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released a draft API (application programming interface) specification that is intended to promote standardization and interoperability in Geofencing. This draft is itself based on W3C’s own Geolocation API, a specification for applications that allows the user to check the current geographic location of his or her device. The Geofencing API is considered an improvement on the Geolocation API because it utilizes an object approach called Service Workers which can pull pertinent geographic information and then decide what information to render on a webpage for user consumption.

One effect that the Service Worker approach will have on the Geofencing API is that applications that use the API can continue to collect a user’s geographic location even after the application has been closed. Not surprisingly, features such as this do raise privacy concerns. In response, the W3C’s draft is going to great lengths to outline best-practice approaches for privacy. At present, the W3C draft shows four examples of common call requests in geofencing:

  • Monitor a region
  • Respond to a region being entered
  • Respond to an error condition
  • Unmonitor a region in response to some other event

Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien responded to the privacy concerns that the Geofencing API represents:

This isn’t terrible, but it is very bound to consent, and that’s a weakness since

(a) it is not common knowledge about how sensitive location data actually is and what can be done with it — a person might say “oh, it’s OK because my identity is anonymous” — but not realize that the location data itself can pierce anonymity (e.g., location data on Lee Tien (even if masked as X) shows that X spends days at 815 Eddy and nights at my house in Berkeley, so who else could X be?)

(b) users give consent to get things done and often without understanding the sensitivity of location data or even what the deal they agreed to entails

(c) there’s no obvious consideration of location granularity or fuzzing.

But these are technical standards and one of the big issues in the technical standards world is the extent to which policy standards are to be built into them. It is inevitable but as the geolocation API spec says, inherently difficult.

If you are interested in contributing to the development of the Geofencing API, there are a few ways to get involved. You can sign up to be on the project mailing list in order to get the latest information about the API, and you can view a list of open issues on GitHub. As always, we encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comment section. If you’d like to receive notifications about new OpenStand posts, feel free to subscribe to our blog!

Posted in News

World Standards Day 2015: Celebrate Collaboration and Innovation!

Posted on October 14th, 2015

It’s World Standards Day! Where would the world be without standards? Join us as we take a look at how standards impact our daily lives.

Image: Shutterstock, Sergey Nivens

It’s World Standards Day, and a good time to reflect upon the role standards play in our daily lives. As we referenced in this post, standards are of particular importance in how we communicate using technology. Therefore, it follows that the theme of this year’s World Standards Day is “The World’s Common Language.

The relationship between standards and communication can be seen in the simple relationship traffic signs, symbols and signals and people. Our modern system of transportation communication leverages a common language to instruct motorists how to proceed safely. If our signals did not carry near-universal meaning for all the people on the road, traveling by vehicle would be a good deal more hazardous. Technology standards operate in a similar way. It doesn’t take too much imagination to think of the logistical nightmare that would unfold without standardized formats and protocols for for email, IP addresses or other technology-based communications. Misalignment of our technology based language would not only impact individual communication, but the ability of devices and systems to interoperate and communicate.  

In a manner similar to linguistic standards, technology standards make it easier for people and machines to work together. To maximize the benefits of standards, the OpenStand partners, supporters and advocates encourage the development of standards that adhere to the OpenStand Principles. Standards that are developed in an open, inclusive, collaborative, transparent, accessible and market-driven manner can help ensure a future of global innovation, interoperability and economic growth. Open Standards are, in effect, the building blocks for a global common language for technology development and innovation.

We hope you’ll take a minute to look at the OpenStand Principles here and join us in advocating for Open Stand in one of these three ways:

If you are a business that contributes to the development of open standards and/or leverages and benefits from the use of Open Standards, you may contact us to submit your short (>400 character) endorsement of OpenStand. If you are a Standards Development Organization (SDO’s only), you are welcome to contact us to become a signatory on the OpenStand Principles.

Posted in News

Standards Opportunities: IETF on E2E Encryption for Communications

Posted on October 7th, 2015

We’ve reached a critical time for improving messaging encryption and associated features, along with the secure protocols we use to transfer our information and a number of organizations are working in this arena.

Image: IETF

As indelible parts of modern communication, email and real-time communications are unlikely to change significantly in the near future. As messaging capabilities expand across a proliferating number of devices and we find more ways to incorporate Internet-based communication into our daily lives, placing a priority on improving the security of Internet Communications should be a central concern. We’ve reached a critical time for improving messaging encryption and associated features, along with the secure protocols we use to transfer our information and a number of organizations are working in this arena.

In a recent article, Kathleen Moriarty, Security Area Director of IETF, addressed some of the challenges involved in end-to-end (e2e) message encryption, posing the question “Can it be done?” The article references several important encryption standards on the scene for secure email transmissions.

Standards such as OpenPGP and IETF’s S/MIME represent very positive contributions to the ultimate goal of e2e email encryption. Unfortunately, technologies such as these sometimes present vulnerabilities in the areas of creation and sharing of encryption keys. As this important field increases, it is increasingly obvious that there is a tremendous need for solutions that conform to the OpenStand Principles.  

The article also references XMPP, the protocol used by the types of instant messaging associated with social media and intranet communication, already has e2e encryption capabilities, which need to be strengthened. XMPP’s Off-the-Record (OTR) encryption support, while easy to use, could be more feature-rich, and the encryption itself has been described by industry experts as having room for improvement.

Fortunately, the XMPP developer community has not ignored these issues and a number of interested participants (including some XMPP working group members) have already established plans for new features that they would like to roll out. Some of the new features that have been proposed include:

  • The ability to send encrypted messages when the recipient is offline, where the recipient can read the messages when they come back online
  • E2e encrypted group chat
  • Improved security and reliability of e2e encryption solution for messaging
  • ‘Device mobility’ or the ability to send and receive messages on any of your devices
  • Added accountability, to know who has the ability to read messages and who has the ability to confer that ability to others

It is our desire to see participants developing next-generation E2E standards embracing the OpenStand Principles, to help ensure the standards for encryption are created in a manner with the broadest possible consensus. With regard to the XMPP encryption standards, the IETF is an affirming partner of the OpenStand principles and a solid place to join to help define tomorrow’s messaging encryption standards.

Posted in News

Industry, Academia & Government Celebrate of U.S. World Standards Day 2015

Posted on October 1st, 2015

The U.S. celebration of World Standards Day 2015 is taking place today, October 1st, at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Image: Shutterstock, NikoNomad

One of the postulates of the Shannon-Weaver model of communication is that communication requires agreement. If the parties involved in an exchange of information do not form an agreement on the meaning of the terms used during an exchange, the resulting communication will sloppy and typically, unsuccessful.  Weaver’s assertion can be applied without argument to a conversational exchange, but it also applies to technology development.

The technology we use today, from phone to computer, instant message to satellite communications system — must “speak the same language.” When they do not, our messages will not go through, devices will not communicate or interoperate, and communication will break down.  “Standardization” is the strategy of leveraging broad consensus to design technologies that speak the same language and enable global communication and interoperability.  In observation and celebration of the collaborative power of technological standards, World Standards Day was launched in 1970 to recognize the achievements of the standards community.

The U.S. celebration of World Standards Day 2015 will take place on the first of October at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event recognizes the many important contributions of those in the standards community, including innovators in industry, academia, and government. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2015 Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership award, which is named after the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce and honors an individual who has effectively promoted standardization as a key tool in the elimination of global trade barriers.

It’s never easy for us to pass up an opportunity to brag on our friends, and it is worth noting that many of those innovators working in the standards community can be found among OpenStand’s very own affirming partners and supporters.  Organizations like W3C, IEEE, and the Internet Society will be on hand for the U.S. celebration of World Standards Day, showcasing some of the recent work that they have been doing in standards development.

We hope you’ll check out the World Standards Day site and keynotes.  If you’d like to become an OpenStand advocate, simply:

Posted in News

OneWebDay 2015 to Focus on ‘The Next Billion’ to Join the Web

Posted on September 22nd, 2015

It's OneWebDay! This year's theme is "Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion." Find out how open standards are crucial in order to keep the internet thriving.

For the past nine years, September 22 has been set aside by open-web advocates and professionals to raise awareness for the importance of open-standards and open-networking principles under the umbrella of “OneWebDay.” The 2015 theme for OneWebDay is “Connecting the Next Billion.” The theme was selected to align with the concurrent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) program, “Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion.”

The term, “the next billion,” refers to the figures that suggest that there are approximately three billion active Internet users as of 2015. The task of bringing the next billion online all while safeguarding and advancing the utility of the web that we enjoy today is monumental. According to the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), “more effort is necessary in order to connect the next billion and to address the digital divide” and “Collaboration between governmental and non-governmental actors is key to meet this challenge.”

In a keynote address earlier this year, United States Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli addressed the issue of Internet expansion, drawing from data contained in a 2014 report from the Alliance for an Affordable Internet (A4AI). In the address, Novelli identified four important principles for a thriving Internet:

  1. Drive broadband infrastructure expansion through increased private investment and removal of barriers.
  2. Intensify competition and level the playing field to increase access, reduce cost and stimulate demand.
  3. Open access and infrastructure sharing.
  4. Enable access to spectrum.

Here is Ms. Novelli’s full address:

OneWebDay is another opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of open-web principles and the issues that may face the Internet as we collectively work to accommodate the millions of people who connect and who will connect in the future. If you have any feedback, be sure to leave a comment. To become an advocate for the principles that have contributed to the open internet and technology development environment we enjoy today, we invite you to become an OpenStand advocate by: 

Posted in News

IETF, ISOC Support Open Standards Growth by Investing in Latin America

Posted on September 16th, 2015

Despite the global openness of IETF, most contributors have historically hailed from the West—but IETF and ISOC are looking to change that and bolster participation from Latin American countries in particular.

Image: Internet Society

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the institutional home for Internet Standards development. In short, the IETF develops, supports, and maintains standards that support the Internet, communications, systems and protocols, etc. As with other open standards development organizations (SDOs), participation in the IETF is open to anyone with the expertise and inclination to engage in standards development.

Unfortunately, despite the global openness of IETF, most contributors have historically hailed from the West, with the top three contributing nations being the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany. According to recent IETF data, presented by IETF Chair, Jari Arkko, of the 70 countries that have published standards documents and under-review specifications, only seven of those were Latin American:

  • Argentina (23 published documents)
  • Brazil (7 documents)
  • Chile (5 documents)
  • Uruguay (2 documents)
  • Cuba (1 document)
  • Colombia (1 document)
  • Ecuador (1 document)

Noting increased involvement from the Latin American region, IETF and ISOC sought to bolster the region’s participation by launching a program to provide financial aid to engineers from under-represented regions to support attendance at IETF meetings. Several Latin American web professionals have already taken advantage of this program. They have also established the IETF-LAC group, which works with Latin American (and Caribbean) engineers to coordinate their contributions to and involvement in the IETF.

While this represents a significant inroad to increasing the Latin American footprint in the world of open web standards collaboration, success requires more than just financial aid programs and regional coordinating bodies: There must be significant employer commitment to investing in standards development, as well as support from governments and universities who want to help build a web that is open, innovative, and truly global.

The IETF’s move underscores its deep commitment to the OpenStand Principles and the belief that active participation from all regions is key for the Internet to remain open and inclusive. We hope our readers in Latin America will take note of these changes and participate with IETF in open standards.

Feel free to leave a comment or write us a message and tell us how you think open web standards can impact the growth of developing markets!

Posted in News

Culinary Metaphors for “Tasty” Standards Development

Posted on September 9th, 2015

Standards development and cooking a delicious dish in the kitchen have more in common than you might think.

Image: Shutterstock, Pinkyone

In a recent post, Web standards expert and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) blogger Virginie Galindo likens standards development to cooking. Galindo compares gathering feedback from web developers to “test[ing] a dish” and seeing if the audience finds it “to [their] taste.”

Galindo’s culinary metaphor is a handy one, as it uniquely captures the creative and communal aspects of standards development. At the Paris Web conference this October, Galindo will be discussing possible “recipes” for privacy and security. The conference, which will be attended by over 1,300 web professionals, will feature a variety of topics regarding open standards, but Galindo is particularly excited about the special emphasis that will be placed on privacy and security. “I will promote the recent work in Web Application Security, Web Cryptography, Privacy, together with security and privacy related activities of the Technical Architecture Group.” says Galindo. “I’ll do my best to expose the recent security and privacy achievements, ongoing plans, and developing success of W3C.”

According to Galindo’s own website, some of her expositional goals for Paris Web include the following:

  • Why security matters and how W3C progresses on that quest
  • How users could win a decent treatment of their application permission, but also better understand the danger and countermeasure of browser fingerprinting
  • How web developers could implement security policy based on crypto operations, and create mixed content with less security risk, thanks to the Web Crypto API, CORS and CSP
  • How important it is to improve user and service provider’s interest by promoting usage of HTTPS
  • How the next features of the open web platform could be made available in secured context

Of all the talking points that Galindo anticipates, none seem to be more important to her than emphasizing the collaborative nature of standards development. By getting more feedback from industry professionals and by capturing the imaginations of enthusiastic contributors, the end result is a set of standards that more fully meet the needs of the developer community.

We hope you’ll join W3C, IEEE, ISOC, IETF and IAB in becoming an OpenStand advocate!

Posted in News
Next »