mark nottingham

Tech Regulation

Modularity: Enabling Interoperability and Competition

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.

Considerations for AI Opt-Out

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2024

It happens fairly often. Someone brings a proposal to a technical standards body like the IETF and expects that just because it becomes an RFC, people will adopt it. Or they’ll come across a requirement in an RFC and expect it to be enforced, perhaps with some kind of punishment. Or they’ll get angry that people don’t pay attention to an existing standard and do their own thing. This is so common that there’s a ready response widely used by IETF people in these situations:

RFC 9518 - What Can Internet Standards Do About Centralisation?

Tuesday, 19 December 2023

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

Technical Standards Bodies are Regulators

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

There are lots of ways to view what Internet standards bodies like the IETF and W3C do. They are horizontal agreements between competitors as well as mission-driven public-good charities. One might believe they’re the homes of innovation that brought us the Internet and the Web, or that they’re boring, ineffective and slow committee talking shops. Some see them as vibrant, diverse communities, while others believe they’re completely dominated by big tech.

How we Build Platforms

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

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.

A Safer, More Centralised Australian Internet

Sunday, 11 September 2022

There are many potential criticisms of the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth)1. While my own concerns are mostly about whether there are appropriate checks and balances on the eSafety Commissioner’s powers, I will give credit where due; the current Commissioner’s implementation of it has – so far – demonstrated nuance and thoughtful balancing of the legislation’s goals with the preservation and enhancement of the unique properties that make the Internet so valuable to society. See, eg, ‘Explainer: The Online Safety Bill’, Digital Rights Watch. ↩

How the Next Layer of the Internet is Going to be Standardised

Monday, 21 June 2021

A big change in how the Internet is defined - and who defines it - is underway.