mark nottingham

Consensus in Internet Standards

Standards   Friday, 24 May 2024

It’s common for voluntary technical standards developing organisations (SDOs such as the IETF and W3C) to make decisions by consensus, rather than (for example) voting. This post explores why we use consensus, what it is, how it works in Internet standards and when its use can become problematic.

Modularity: Enabling Interoperability and Competition

Tech Regulation   Friday, 10 May 2024

Mandated interoperability is often highlighted as a way to improve competition on the Internet. However, most of the interoperability we see there today was established voluntarily: mandating it is relatively uncharted territory, with many potential pitfalls.

No One Should Have That Much Power

Internet and Web   Monday, 29 April 2024

It’s a common spy thriller trope. There’s a special key that can unlock something critical – business records, bank vaults, government secrets, nuclear weapons, maybe all of the above, worldwide.

Considerations for AI Opt-Out

Tech Regulation   Sunday, 21 April 2024

Creating a Large Language Model (LLM) requires a lot of content – as implied by the name, LLMs need voluminous input data to be able to function well. Much of that content comes from the Internet, and early models have been seeded by crawling the whole Web.

There Are No Standards Police

Standards Tech Regulation   Wednesday, 13 March 2024

No one requires tech companies or open source projects to use most Internet standards, and no one requires people to use them either. This post explains why the voluntary nature of its standards are critical to the Internet's health.

RFC 9518 - What Can Internet Standards Do About Centralisation?

Internet and Web Standards Tech Regulation   Tuesday, 19 December 2023

RFC 9518: Centralization, Decentralization, and Internet Standards has been published after more than two years of review, discussion, and revision.

How to Run an Australian Web Site in 2024

Australia   Monday, 27 November 2023

A while back, the eSafety Commissioner declined to register the proposed Industry Codes that I’ve previously written about. Now, they’ve announced a set of Industry Standards that, after a comment period, will likely be law.

Technical Standards Bodies are Regulators

Tech Regulation Standards   Wednesday, 1 November 2023

There are lots of ways to view what Internet standards bodies like the IETF and W3C do. This post examines them as a type of regulator and explores what that means for how they operate.

How we Build Platforms

Tech Regulation   Sunday, 19 February 2023

I’m fascinated by the Metaverse. Not because I want to use that steaming pile of legless avatars, but because it’s the latest prominent attempt to establish a new platform. As Mark Zuckerberg said in internal emails about it:

What I Learned in Law School

Tech Regulation   Thursday, 5 January 2023

In the last decade or so, it’s become increasingly apparent that the Internet is going to be subject to more legal regulation. Because it’s a global network, this is tricky; fragmentation risk grows if regulation isn’t consistent between jurisdictions. And of course, there are all the other pitfalls of regulation — it’s difficult to agree on societal goals, much less change working systems to meet those goals without ill effect.