Internet standards body seeks to encrypt and anonymize more web traffic

By Matt Klinger

In response to concerns about government surveillance, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which develops technical standards for the internet, is working on a plan to expand the use of encryption on the web.  Most web traffic today is exchanged under the hyper text transfer protocol (HTTP), an unencrypted medium.  Some sites, however, like banks, online retailers, and Gmail, use HTTPS, which incorporates encryption into the exchange.  The IETF hopes to produce a standard by the end of 2014 that encourages the use of HTTPS for all web traffic, although adoption by websites would not be mandatory.

Salon reports the IETF is also looking into make anonymous surfing of the web easier by expanding the use of Tor - a networking software that anonymizes web traffic.  Journalists, activists, and others across the globe use Tor to protect their communications.  Meanwhile, the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart seem intent on cracking the software.  Ironically, Tor's precursors were developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to safeguard its communications and the U.S. government reportedly still funds around 60 percent of Tor's development tab.