Prominent developer criticizes HTTP/2 protocol, claims politics drove adoption process

By Archean
Feb 23, 2015
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  1. Prominent developer criticizes HTTP/2 protocol, claims politics drove adoption process

    The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) completed work on the Hypertext Transfer Protocol 2 (HTTP/2) standard earlier this week. This new protocol will replace current versions of HTTP (1.0 and 1.1) and is the largest single update to the standard since it debuted more than 25 years ago. Most analysts and websites that have covered the announcement positively, but at least one major developer, Poul-Henning Kamp, has publicly spoken out against the project.

    First, some uncontested background. The push to update HTTP/2 really got started after Google released its own SPDY protocol. SPDY was designed to accelerate HTTP traffic (the term is not an acronym) and Google publicly stated it was working to have its custom protocol turned into a standard back in 2012. The IETF accepted SPDY as the basis for HTTP/2, and while the two standards aren’t identical (HTTP/2 allows for multiplexing across different hosts simultaneously, whereas SPDY doesn’t), much of SPDY’s design was cut-and-pasted into the HTTP/2 standard.

    According to Kamp, this was a significant mistake. He raises multiple issues with HTTP/2’s design, claiming that it doesn’t protect user privacy, does nothing to address the numerous security and privacy issues around cookies, incrementally improves performance (at best), and was driven by politics, not technical best practices. Kamp isn’t the only unhappy developer — Constantine Murenin weighed in on the IETF mailing list, noting that the standard fails to address opportunistic encryption, relying instead on mandatory encryption via HTTPS. There are a number of reasons why websites and hardware might not deploy HTTPS that have nothing to do with nefarious intent and everything to do with cost, implementation, and certification difficulties.


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