Message from the IETF Chair

By: Jari Arkko

Date: July 1, 2014

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For me and many others, IETF 89 started during the previous week with a workshop organised by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on improving privacy on the Internet. Similarly, as the IETF meeting was ending, several design team meetings and workshops were just getting started. It never ceases to amaze me how much energy our community has.

The London meeting was one of the best-attended IETF meetings in recent history. We had 1,400 participants on site and many more connected remotely. Participants came from 60 countries and a variety of backgrounds. In addition, the Internet Society’s Public Policy Fellowship Programme, which brings policymakers and regulators to IETF meetings, had a record 30 participants, all very active.

The March meeting also saw changes in IETF leadership: Alia Atlas, Alissa Cooper, and Kathleen Moriarty joined the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and Mary Barnes, Ted Hardie, Joe Hildebrand, and Brian Trammell joined the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Thank you all for volunteering, and many thanks also to the members who stepped down.

Each meeting holds something of interest to everyone. I found the following noteworthy:

  • Topics related to strengthening the security and privacy of the Internet continue to draw attention. The pre-meeting STRINT workshop (see related IETF Journal article) attracted 100 participants and more than 60 papers. More would have joined us, but there was no space. During the meeting, various working groups continued the discussion. The Using TLS for Applications (UTA) working group (WG), which was specifically created to address issues surrounding pervasive monitoring, had its first meeting. The Transmission Control Protocol Maintenance (TCPM) WG discussed a proposal to add opportunistic keying mechanisms directly onto the TCP protocol. And the Encryption of Domain Name System (DNSE) Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) considered the possibility of adding confidentiality support to DNS queries. Finally, there is an ongoing effort to review old specifications for areas that might benefit from better privacy and data minimisation.
  • Projects related to key components of the web platform continued. The Transport Layer Security (TLS) WG has been rechartered to work on TLS 1.3, a redesign of the TLS protocol that provides security and efficiency benefits. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Bis (HTTPBIS) WG continued another redesign effort around HTTP 2.0, which may enable the use of TLS even for http uniform resource identifiers (URIs) and provide limited protection against passive attacks. Work on HTTP 2.0 is nearing completion.
  • The WebRTC work on real-time communications from browsers continued. The group has deferred a controversial mandatory-to-implement video codec question, but is making excellent progress in all other areas.
  • The IETF has worked on various aspects of the Internet of Things for years. A new proposal was discussed in the Authentication and Authorization for Constrained Environments (ACE) BoF, which addressed how to authorise different smart objects and their users to do the actions that they are allowed to do.
  • Internet governance has been a hot topic around the world—at the IETF we are focused on technology, but we also care that governance associated with the Internet is both stable and reliable. In addition, we are directly impacted by the protocol parameters registry function at the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which records all the assignments of protocol-related constants. At the IGOVUPDATE session, Olaf Kolkman spoke about the protocol parameters registry, its evolution, and the principles under which the IAB has guided this evolution. After some amendments, the room voted unanimously to continue to operate under these principles.
  • Network node configuration is becoming increasingly dominated by Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF)/YANG-type solutions rather than Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)-based solutions. The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) issued a statement to make sure WGs take note of this.
  • As an open organisation, anyone can join IETF discussions. While this is a good thing, it can present challenges. A recent discussion on our mailing list raises the question of how to deal with repetitive postings and impolite messages.

After each meeting, these and other topics continue to be discussed on our mailing lists. Join the discussions at

Finally, many thanks to our host, ICANN, as well as to BT for our connectivity, and to Comcast for sponsoring the welcome reception.