Following a short presentation introducing my intent to host a panel session at UKNOF (something I’ve written about previously), I had the opportunity to host a panel at UKNOF52 focusing on Rights, Privacy, and the Network Operator, which in my view is an area that isn’t touched on enough.

Aiming to share perspectives on a users’ right to privacy and security – albeit a topic with a lot more attention – I hoped to expand the discussion to where the network operator fits in this discussion. There’s a tendency, from perspectives people have kindly shared with me, for the network operator to focus more heavily on the technical aspect of this discussion: the protocols, the cost of those protocols, and whether those protocols work. It is government and regulators, at least from many such perspectives, that should make decisions around ethics and judge what protections (if any) users need, either towards privacy or the concept of “online safety”.

There was a particularly interesting aspect of the discussion that stood out to me, and that was where the role of government and regulation fell in relation to Internet standards. Shortly before our panel session, RFC 9446: Reflections on Ten Years Past the Snowden Revelations was published (co-authored by panelist Stephen Farrell) which discussed the unease of the standards community to work with governments following arguable abuse of this relationship previously, and I was delighted for this to be touched upon in the panel session itself.

Of course, the panel also fell around the time of the Online Safety Bill (now enacted as the Online Safety Act) in the UK, which we also had some interesting discussions about, especially about how network operators and the network community might be impacted by this, and what their role should be in informing such regulatory decisions, especially from a technical perspective.

I had the immense privilege of chairing this discussion with panelists Robert Wilton, Dr Stephen Farrell, Olivier Crepin-Leblond, and my own supervisor, Dr Poonam Yadav. A video of the panel session is available below.

Watch the Panel

The panel session, as captured at UKNOF52: