International Professional Fora:

A study of civil society organisation participation in internet governance

International Professional Fora:

A study of civil society organisation participation in internet governance

In December 2017, the European Commission issued a Mandate to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) to study feasibility and identify technical conditions for the use of the lower 6 GHz (5925-6425 MHz) band for the provision of wireless broadband communications.

The proposal for the adoption of the Digital Object Architecture (DOA) (also known as the Handle System) as a universal standard for information and data management within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has steered an international debate and controversy.

In standard setting interoperability is key. It ensures that products developed by different vendors can work together to provide the anticipated service to the user. For the creation of interoperable products, technical experts that participate in standard-setting are required to follow intellectual property rules (IPRs) set within each organisation. Divergences in opinion over IPRs have contributed to patent disputes. In order to prevent potential patent litigation, national and supra-national regulatory and enforcement bodies have urged technical standardisation organisations to outline clear IP rules for participating members (Comino and Manenti 2015; European Commission 2016; FTC, 2016; European Commission 2017). In this project, the focus is on standard setting for the internet within self-regulatory fora which correspond to the four layers of the internet architecture - Network, Internet, Transport and Application – where the IEEE, IETF, W3C and OASIS are the key players. These 4 organisations have recently updated their IPR policies.


In 2013, Google announced that it was working on a way of reducing latency on the web by developing a new transport protocol called QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections). As explained here, network performance improves with the decrease of the round trip time (RTT) for establishing connection between the client and the server. The QUIC protocol is intended to outperform the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and instead use a new version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol (TLS 1.3) for encryption over UDP (User Datagram Protocol) which has been relied upon for faster transportation of Internet Protocol (IP) traffic. More clearly, '[t]he standard way to do secure web browsing involves communicating over TCP + TLS, which requires 2 to 3 round trips with a server to establish a secure connection before the browser can request the actual web page. QUIC is designed so that if a client has talked to a given server before, it can start sending data without any round trips, which makes web pages load faster' (Chromium Blog, 17 April 2015). 

TLS 1.3

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) standard and its successor - Transport Layer Security (TLS) - have provided security for internet traffic.

The MIKEY-SAKKE (Multimedia Internet KEYing – Sakai Kasahara Key Exchange) protocol was designed by the then known as the Information Security arm of UK’s GCHQ, CESG (now National Cyber Security Centre - NCSC), and published in IETF RFCs 6507, 6508, 6509.

On 7th July 2016, the W3C’s Device and Sensors Working Group returned the specification of the Battery Status API, previously published as a Proposed Recommendation in March 2016, to the status of Candidate Recommendation. The document referred to concerns that have been raised for ‘possible privacy-invasive usage of the Battery Status API’.

On 30 August 2016, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published its guidelines for the implementation of the EU net neutrality Regulation by the national regulatory agencies (NRAs). The number of responses (481,547 in total) received to the public consultation on the draft guidelines was unprecedented for BEREC; albeit not in comparison to the announced of 3.7 million replies to US FCC’s net neutrality proposals two years ago and the 800,000 emails to the Indian telecoms regulator sent in less than a week, in relation to the same policy issue.

On 29-30 June 2016, the W3C held a workshop on Blockchains and the Web, hosted by the MIT Media Lab. The sponsors of the event included NTT and Blockstream. It was designed to focus on issues on the integration of blockchains into the web and their utilisation.

In relation to broadcasting spectrum, in Europe, the decision-making process in the lead up to the WRC-15 demonstrated the formation of generally three groups of actors – the broadcasters, the mobile cellular players and the wireless broadband industry representatives.

This debate dates back to 2012 when a group of technical experts from Google, Microsoft and Netflix put forward a proposal within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to introduce specifications for Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in advanced HTML5.

On 29th February 2016, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published a memo titled IETF Trends and Observations, written by Jari Arkko (Ericsson), Avri Doria (APC), Tobias Gondrom (Huawei), Olaf Kolkman (Internet Society), Steve Olshansky (Internet Society), Benson Schliesser (Brocade Communications), Robert Sparks (Oracle) and Russ White (LinkedIn).

On 5th February 2016 the European Commission (EC) published the results of the public consultation on Standards in the Digital Single Market: setting priorities and ensuring delivery. A total of 156 replies were received from individuals, SMEs, large enterprises and industrial associations, global and regional standardisation organisations and technical standard setting fora, public authorities, research centres. 

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