Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (2):449–468 (2017)

Luciano Floridi
Oxford University
The debate on whether and how the Internet can protect and foster human rights has become a defining issue of our time. This debate often focuses on Internet governance from a regulatory perspective, underestimating the influence and power of the governance of the Internet’s architecture. The technical decisions made by Internet Standard Developing Organisations that build and maintain the technical infrastructure of the Internet influences how information flows. They rearrange the shape of the technically mediated public sphere, including which rights it protects and which practices it enables. In this article, we contribute to the debate on SDOs’ ethical responsibility to bring their work in line with human rights. We defend three theses. First, SDOs’ work is inherently political. Second, the Internet Engineering Task Force, one of the most influential SDOs, has a moral obligation to ensure its work is coherent with, and fosters, human rights. Third, the IETF should enable the actualisation of human rights through the protocols and standards it designs by implementing a responsibility-by-design approach to engineering. We conclude by presenting some initial recommendations on how to ensure that work carried out by the IETF may enable human rights.
Keywords Internet architecture  Internet Engineering Task Force  Internet governance  Responsibility-by-design  Standard Developing Organisations  Protocols  Right to freedom of expression  Privacy  Standards  Values-by-design  Human Rights
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11948-016-9793-y
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Handbook of Qualitative Research.N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln - 1994 - British Journal of Educational Studies 42 (4):409-410.
Protocol.Alexander R. Galloway - 2006 - Theory, Culture and Society 23 (2-3):317-320.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Looking to the Internet for Models of Governance.Charles Vincent & Jean Camp - 2004 - Ethics and Information Technology 6 (3):161-173.
Trust in the Shell.Andrea Monti - 2010 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (3):507-517.
The Internet as Friend or Foe of Intellectual Freedom.Elizabeth Buchanan - 2004 - International Review of Information Ethics 2.
Digital Rights and Freedoms: A Framework for Surveying Users and Analyzing Policies.Todd Davies - 2014 - In Luca Maria Aiello & Daniel McFarland (eds.), Social Informatics: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference (SocInfo 2014). Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 8851. pp. 428-443.
The Internet, Children, and Privacy: The Case Against Parental Monitoring.Kay Mathiesen - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (4):263-274.
E-Mail, Terrorism, and the Right to Privacy.Stephen Coleman - 2006 - Ethics and Information Technology 8 (1):17-27.


Added to PP index

Total views
71 ( #149,634 of 62,457 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
23 ( #31,523 of 62,457 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes