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Minutes of the RIPE Cooperation Working Group
Date: 15 May 11:00 - 12:30
Chair: Maria Häll and Meredith Whittaker
Scribe: Chris Buckridge
Status: Final

A. Administrative Matters

The co-chairs opened the meeting. New co-chairs Meredith Whittaker and Alain Van Gaever introduced themselves and briefly outlined their hopes for the working group, specifically ensuring that the content is relevant and of practical use to the RIPE community.

The minutes from RIPE 67 were approved, as was the agenda for RIPE 68.

B. Content Blocking

B1. A Technical Overview of Content Blocking Methods – Pier Carlo Chiodi, Olaf Kolkman

Olaf Kolkman gave an overview of the work done by Pier Carlo Chiodi on content blocking on the Internet and other work in the same area. Outlining a number of strategies employed by those wishing to block content, he noted that blocking is done most effectively at the end-point (or origin of the content), and that blocking in the network involves a variety of trade-offs.

Lars-Johan Liman noted that even “legitimate” blocking has collateral damage, and pointed to the example of the hotel network, where the interception of traffic prevents the use of DNSSEC. He suggested that in such situations it is best if the effects of the blocking are stated upfront for users.

Andrei Robachevsky recalled a paper produced by ISOC (prepared around the time of the SOCA/PIPA/ACTA legislative proposals), and noted that security and hidden costs are all important, and public policy makers need to be made aware of these negative impacts. Olaf pointed out that users will do whatever they can to get to blocked content, and that this can also have potential negative effects (including a greater viral footprint or exposing backdoors to computer systems).

Alexander Isavnin asked participants in the room who thought their countries were doing blocking, and whether they thought it was being abused.

Richard Barnes noted that these issues reinforce the importance of an end-to-end strategy, and agreed that the hotel network is a good example of how blocking can break important security elements like DNSSEC.

Jim Reid noted that blocking access to specific content can mean that broader services are blocked. He had advised on a case where one of the questions asked was "what else would be affected if we prevented port 80 access for this particular domain?”. The only person who could provide a definitive answer would be the administrator of the web server at that IP address and they would be unlikely to cooperate with anyone intending to blocking traffic for that address.

B2. Telex: A Proposal For Circumventing Censorship in the Network – Eric Wustrow

Eric Wustrow outlined the Telex project, which has been developed to circumvent content blocking measures. The system provides a means of connecting users to blocked content via a mechanism that is invisible to the censoring technology. He encouraged ISPs to contribute to the work with advice and prototype deployment assistance.

Robert Kisteleki noted that PGP key distribution may be a bottleneck in the Telex system. Eric noted that the paper discusses some of these issues, including preventing censors from distributing “bad” public keys. He suggested that having a central Telex entity that is known and trusted will be important to mitigate these risks. He also noted that getting information into areas subjected to censorship is often less difficult than might be supposed.

B3. Web Censorship Circumvention: Challenges and Opportunities – Walid Al-Saqaf

Walid Al-Saqaf outlined his project to map URL filtering via crowdsourcing, which is developing longitudinal data, while allowing contributing users to access blocked websites via his own servers. He presented a range of data and analysis obtained from this work, including content blocking methods and strategies. He noted the need to make people more aware of the range of circumvention tools and solutions available, and that speed, security and anonymity are all important to users. He also described his plans for the future, including open-sourcing his own project and cooperating with similar projects.

Andrei Robachevsky asked whether the project looked at which means of blocking were most common. Walid stated that he has done some analysis of this, using the packet headers - the more data he can get, the better this analysis will be.

Meredith Whittaker noted that the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) project, coordinated by the Tor team, is also doing work in this area and is generating public data.

Alexander Isavnin suggested that a RIPE task force might be a useful vehicle for RIPE community members interested in this issue. Walid agreed that the technical community, and particularly its relationship to civil society actors in this space, needs to be further explored and understood.

C. IANA Transition

Chris Buckridge and Paul Rendek of the RIPE NCC presented background information on the U.S. Government's announcement of its intention to transition out of its IANA functions oversight role. They noted that any proposal for a future model of IANA administration needs to come from a global, multi-stakeholder development process, and that RIPE and the RIPE NCC are key IANA stakeholders. They suggested that the RIPE community's discussion of these issues should be centred around the Cooperation Working Group, with the RIPE NCC assisting in facilitating input to that process from regional events and voices.

Rob Blokzijl warned that any process involving ICANN will necessarily be complicated and political. On a technical point, he noted that future RIPE NCC presentations on this subject should include the RIPE NCC's reverse DNS interactions with IANA, which may be more regular than the number resource requests already noted. He further noted that the RIPE NCC's direct interactions with the NTIA itself were non-existent, and stressed that the processes developed by RIPE and the other RIR communities already met the requirements laid out by the NTIA as necessary for oversight of the IANA functions.

Danniel Karrenberg recalled that this is not the first time this discussion has taken place, and that the RIPE community has historically taken an active part in the discussion around the formation of ICANN and the organisation and delivery of IANA services. He stressed the legitimacy and credibility of the RIR community processes in policy-making and argued against over-complicating the situation. He also noted that the IANA is three distinct groups of functions (number resources, the DNS root zone and protocol parameters), and the RIPE community discussions should focus primarily on the number resource functions; if difficulties in defining governance processes for the DNS root zone threaten to derail the oversight transition process, the community should be explicitly prepared to propose unbundling those functions and taking oversight of the numbering functions.

Malcolm Hutty disagreed with the perception that NTIA oversight was not important, and stressed that this oversight has protected the policy-making relationship with ICANN itself. He noted that policy regarding the DNS is determined by the ICANN community and imposed on registrars, meaning that users essentially have to submit to ICANN policies. RIPE and the RIR communities determine their own policies with regard to Internet number management, but it may be conceivable that ICANN would decide it wants to set these policies in future and impose them on the RIPE community. He argued that a credible external oversight function must be retained to prevent this.

Nurani Nimpuno argued that the RIR communities should take ownership of this issue, as custodians of the Internet number resources, and that the community members should be contributing to the broader discussion, while maintaining a focus on the numbering functions. She also stressed that the communities should be pro-active in defining terms like “multi-stakeholder” and “openness” which appear in the NTIA requirements.

Jim Reid agreed with Malcolm Hutty on the importance of preventing ICANN mission-creep, and on the need to tightly define the relationship between the IANA operator and the RIR communities. He also warned that achieving consensus on a community proposal may be difficult, and suggested that there should be a fallback position to allow for RIPE and the RIPE NCC to make a meaningful contribution to the global discussion.

Jari Arkko noted the evolution that has occurred in how the IETF and IAB manage oversight of the protocol parameters and their relationship to IANA. He agreed that the RIPE community needs to take ownership of this and take charge of what needs to change or not change.

Olaf Kolkman, also an active participant in the IETF, noted the efforts in the IETF to align on a principle-based approach, with the most important principle being that the IETF controls its own destiny. Ensuring that people are empowered to participate in these discussions will help the debate going forward, and the community needs to provide guidance - developing a set of principles may be a good first step. Olaf suggested RFC 6220 as a good starting point.

Salam Yamout provided some perspective from the government side, particularly in the Arab world - notably the perception that the United States has control of the Internet, and governments' strong focus on DNS-related issues. She noted that governments concerns centre primarily around ICANN.

Phil Rushton urged the community to be aware of events in other forums, including the UN, WSIS and the ITU - while there is not the need for everyone to be directly involved, we need to be aware of what governments are thinking and the where they still need to be convinced by the RIR communities.

Daniel Karrenberg argued that the community does not need another level of oversight for protection, and noted that the RIR communities already have solid agreements in place with ICANN, which ICANN cannot unilaterally change. He stressed the importance (and his optimism) of achieving community consensus on a proposal. He suggested that the RIPE community should avoid being drawn into the discussions about governance and oversight of DNS root zone management and stick to its purview of Internet number resources.

Paul Wilson noted that the IANA functions comprise three quite different areas (numbers, protocol parameters and DNS), and that only one of these (the DNS) is controversial - the IAB has stated its readiness to take responsibility for the protocol parameters, and the RIR communities should also, in the very near future, be ready to make such a statement regarding the number functions. He and Adiel Akplogan agreed that strengthening the RIR processes, ensuring that they are consistent, clear, accessible and well documented, is vital.

Sandy Murphy warned that the outcome of this process may impact our current model of Internet governance, and stressed the need for the RIR communities to have their voice heard. She also asked about the ICANN consultation timeline, specifically the call for comments on its proposed process, and whether this process is now set. Paul Rendek noted that there is expected to be more information on ICANN's planning in time of the ICANN 50 Meeting, which takes place in London in June.

Chris Buckridge also noted that all relevant information, including links to the relevant ICANN web, is posted on the website.

D. Interconnection

D1. The Internet, the Internets, and Splinternets – Peter Koch

Peter Koch discussed the proposals coming from Germany for establishing a separate “German” Internet.

Randy Bush noted the experience of the Saudi industry, after the regulator decided that no traffic between two Saudi users should leave the country, and pointed out that IXPs are a key element facilitating this.

There was a question as to whether the German-only email system used the DNS (which would generate its own cross-border traffic). Peter noted that the one he mentioned uses special domains, but DNS leakage was of less concern than the actual content of the messages.

Alain Van Gaever asked about the rate of take-up. Peter didn't have figures to hand, but noted that there are incentives, it is early in the deployment, and the operators are targeting users of existing email services.

Brian Nisbet said that while he can see what's being attempted, it never succeeds and generally breaks things that the users want to do. Peter stressed that walking away from the discussion probably isn't the right strategy, and that users often learn what they want from marketing campaigns. Expanding on the question of what users want, Meredith Whittaker noted that users want security, and the technical community needs to be a public voice stating that this is not the way to achieve that.

Marco Davids noted an initative in the Netherlands using a closed user group in BGP - this doesn't combat traffic monitoring, but rather helps mitigate DDOS attacks, and if users (such as banks) are under attack the group can be closed to users outside the Netherlands.

Olaf Kolkman asked whether any EU research funding had been channeled to this, and whether the project could lead to some sort of European standardisation. Peter noted that the work is based on IETF standards. Jean Jacque Sahel noted that the European Commission has publicly said that this is all a very bad idea.

Jaap Akkerhuis recalled a proposal from Italy to establish a trusted network for digital mail.

Olaf Kolkman and Peter Koch, summarising some of the discussion's key points, suggested that we are moving intelligence to the core of the network, and the core is represented by big players. The technical community cannot just dismiss these initiatives - there are some laudable goals behind them, and we need to engage in the discussion.

D2. Interconnection: Russia, the EU, and Internet Cooperation and Governance – Igor Milashevskiy

Igor Milashevskiy, representing the Russian government in its first RIPE Meeting, shared some perspectives on that government's view of the Internet and related public policy. The Russian government sees the Internet as a driver of development, with the Russian Internet market the biggest in Europe - 68 million users, more than 56 million people use Internet every day, including a significant percentage outside big cities. The Russian language is also the second largest in Internet, there are slightly fewer than five million .ru domains and more than 800,000 .рф domains.

Speaking from personal perspective, he noted that the RIPE NCC is a reference organisation in the Internet space, and the target is to restore trust and confidence to the Internet environment, and develop international tools for preventing improper use of the Internet.

Ho noted that the main actor in the Intenet is the user, and if those users have certain rights in the offline world - access to information, privacy, secrecy of communication and freedom of opinion - we have to protect those rights online. The process to do this has just begun, and the Russian government believes there are no rights without duties, no freedom without responsibility.

He also suggested that the role of governments in Internet governance needs to be recognised. NETmundial was a good and innovative attempt to include all stakeholders, but the outcome document doesn't reflect all the contributions.

Ciprian Nica, participating remotely, asked how and who should define the proper purposes of using the Internet. Igor explained that the Internet is a universal tool, and can be used for a wide range of purposes, but that its primary purpose should be to make users' lives richer.

Desiree Milosevich asked if there could be some elaboration on the Russian government's issues with the NETmundial statement. Igor noted that this is in the public record of the Russian statements.

Paul Rendek extended his thanks to Igor and the Russian government for their increased willingness to engage with the RIPE community and RIPE NCC, and welcomed Igor's attendance at the RIPE Meeting.

E. Making the Internet a Little Bit Safer Cryptographically - Randy Bush

Randy Bush discussed the development of an open public architecture for hardware security modules. The goal is a design (not a product) that is scalable, composable and assured. He stressed that the project needs people to audit the code.

Aaron Kaplan asked where to get a development board. Randy noted that the boards are available for 170 USD. Aaron also noted that it would be a good idea to have the testing procedure online and publicly available.

Eric Wuster agreed that this is good work and asked why go the FPGA route rather than using a small embedded chip. Randy noted that some of the applications need speed, particularly some of the encryption stuff. Regarding chips though, Randy noted that the FPGA Verilog was first done in Python, meaning there is a Python version and a Verilog version.

Eric also asked about how the project is sourcing hardware random number generators. Randy replied that they are currently investigating this issue.

F. Policy Radar

F1. RIPE NCC Updates, including NETmundial and IGF Developments – Chris Buckridge

Chris Buckridge gave an update on the wide range of Internet governance events taking place in the coming months, including the ITU Plenipotentiary 2014 that is scheduled to take place in October. He highlighted the links between many of these events, particularly in terms of broader strategies. He noted suggestions from earlier sessions that the RIPE NCC provide more targeted information for the community, and reported that the RIPE NCC is investigating the best method for doing this.

Phil Rushton noted that the technical community can have significant impact on events at the Plenipotentiary via their input to Member State delegations. He also noted that while NETmundial produced a good outcome for the multi-stakeholder model, other forums, such as the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, saw much less support for multi-stakeholder processes and governance.

F2. Co-chair Updates and Working Group Initiatives

Meredith Whittaker closed the session by reiterating the goals of co-chairs, particularly the need to engage people who are affected by Internet governance and public policy issues, but don't currently take an active interest. She noted options such as producing white papers, using RIPE Meeting time for more workshop-style events, and other ideas for the working group to serve as a RIPE community “brains trust” for those involved in public policy discussions.

Nurani Nimpuno noted her support for the co-chairs' approach and stressed the need to bring discussions back to specific issues and make the topics practical for RIPE community participants.

The co-chairs closed the meeting.