What is it with technical standards these days? Suddenly, this closed and unwelcoming world populated by guys with shirt-pocket protectors working on incomprehensible documents thick with unexplained acronyms—as well as not-so-hilarious racism and misogyny under the flimsy cover of April Fool’s Day jokes—is today’s hot internet governance topic.
To anyone familiar with the world of technical standards, it still feels incongruous to hear people like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—who would be cruelly laughed out of the room at the Internet Engineering Task Force, one of the leading standards bodies—extolling the virtues of making “our voices heard more loudly in the standards bodies that write the rules,” as he did two years ago.
Last week’s joint declaration from a meeting of the G-7’s digital and technology ministers continues the rise to prominence of digital technical standards on the international political agenda. They even have a whole annex to themselves in the declaration—Annex 1, no less.