Day 1

Internet, made in Holland 🌷

Session complexity:
“We can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to protect values that we believe are fundamental. Or we can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to allow those values to disappear. There is no middle ground. There is no choice that does not include some kind of building. Code is never found; it is only ever made, and only ever made by us.”

–Lawrence Lessig in “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace”

Who builds, architects or codes the internet?

Did you just think of an American company? You did, didn’t you? You probably did not think of an European, or Dutch, entity. And yet, like Lessig stated in 1999, code is law. This is why it is relevant who works on Internet standards. And who builds the software implementations used in the Internet’s infrastructure.

This talk is about stichting NLnet Labs, a non-profit Public Benefit Organisation (Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling) founded in 1999 in the Netherlands. NLnet Labs develops open standards and open source implementations to support the robustness, security and reliability of the Internet and safeguard the privacy of its users.

Founded by the Internet Pioneers who established the first commercial ISP in the Netherlands, NLnet Labs started out with two researchers, developing proof-of-concept implementations for emerging internet standards, such as IPv6 and DNSSEC. A second effort involved decreasing network operator’s dependence on a software monoculture in the Domain Name System, by creating independent re-implementations that would not share code (and failure modes) with the software that was popular at the time. Over time, these implementations slowly matured and were increasingly adopted in production environments by organisations around the world, including the Internet’s most critical infrastructure. With this greater operation dependency on software that fulfils core functions on the Internet, so came the realisation from the industry that maintenance and development isn’t free. Over the last 20 years, NLnet Labs has grown into a vibrant, self-sustaining organisation that is wholly funded by the industry that depends on their work.

Yes, US entities have always been active builders, architects and coders for the Internet. And while users may not see it on the outside, the internet runs on NLnet Labs. Where we attempt to build, or architect, or code to protect values that we believe are fundamental.

Speakers in this session