Home M3AAWG Blog Pioneers of M3AAWG: Chris Roosenraad, M3AAWG Chairperson Emeritus
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M3AAWG is exploring the historical journey that has shaped our organization for two decades. Each month in 2024, the pioneers of M3AAWG will appear in this blog to share our collective story. These are the trailblazers, the innovators, and the champions for action in the fight against online abuse. 

This month’s interview is with Chris Roosenraad. He served as M3AAWG’s Board of Directors Chairperson for three years, as well as Vice Chairman, and Chair of the Technical Committee, Program Committee, and Public Policy Committee. (He’s still a bit annoyed that he missed out on the trifecta by not becoming the Collaboration Committee chair.) After serving three terms as M3AAWG Chairperson, Chris Roosenraad maintains an active role in the organization as Chairperson Emeritus.

Today, Roosenraad leads the Security, Privacy, and Trust team at GFiber, the Alphabet owned fiber to home Internet Service Provider (ISP). He has served as Chief Information Security Officer, Director of Security Products, and Customer Security and Systems Engineer at multiple companies in tech and finance.

Here is our interview with the M3AAWG pioneer, Chris Roosenraad.

How long have you been with M3AAWG?

I attended my first MAAWG event (no ‘3’ back then) in February of 2006.  At the time, there were less than 50 people in the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco.  It was an amazing experience, unlike anything I’d seen in the tech industry to date.  I came from the ISP side of the house, and watching people actively sharing best practices and ways to address common problems…it was eye opening.

What inspired you to engage and contribute to M3AAWG?

The community, mostly meaning the people.  Many of the people I met at those first meetings are close friends I have to this day.  Their dedication, their enthusiasm, it was infectious.  I felt almost an obligation to get more and more involved.

You have to remember, I was coming from a large US cable operator.  The idea of participating in such an organization, working with others, was almost totally foreign to me.  In hindsight, my work colleagues who participated in the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) or the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) may have had something similar…but they were smart enough to keep that on the down-low.  I raved about MAAWG to everyone…got a lot of flack for that.  Which in some ways inspired me to engage more.

What would you say M3AAWG’s most important contribution to the industry has been over the past 20 years?

There are several things that come to mind, ranging from technical standards to best practices to notable achievements…but in the end, it all comes back to the M3AAWG community.  M3AAWG built a place where passionate individuals could get together and work to keep this weird concept of Internet communications alive.

And have no doubt, back then Internet communications surviving was no sure thing.  There was a real sense that email simply couldn’t survive the explosion of spam.  That perhaps we needed to move on to more closed communication systems.  The large players at the time (AOL, Yahoo, etc.) were being pushed hard to wall themselves off to protect their users.

M3AAWG was arguably one of the final rolls of the dice to keep it working.  And because of that, people attending threw themselves into building something of value.  People were there to get work done, to make things better, to learn, to grow, and to fix the Internet.  As a result, there was an immediate sense of trust and belief in each other.  People were more willing to listen, which enabled more breakthroughs, more success, which created a positive feedback loop that has continued to this day.

What would you consider to be the biggest change in M3AAWG from its early days to now?

There are many tangible things you can point to:  More attendees, bigger budgets, better organization, nicer conference spaces.

And like so much of the rest of the tech industry, there are many social improvements you can point to.  M3AAWG is more inclusive now than it was back then.  It took us years to write the first harassment policy.  All steps in the right direction.

Perhaps the biggest change is that the industry is less imperiled, and as such the M3AAWG meetings are less about survival, and more about continuing to make the future better.  We’re less looking at the tactical problems immediately in front of us, and more looking at how to improve the strategic world.

That last item is what enabled us to go from MAAWG to M3AAWG.  In the recent blog post by Michael O’Reirdan, he spoke to the inspiration he had behind that change.  It’s a great example of how M3AAWG has evolved from where it was when I started.

What would you consider the most significant challenge M3AAWG has faced in its 20-year history?

The easy answer is COVID.  M3AAWG has always placed a huge priority on face-to-face meetings.  Getting everyone together in a room to talk, especially when people were from different parts of the industry (and different parts of the world), was one of the keys in building the M3AAWG community.  COVID obviously shut that all down, and like so much of the world, M3AAWG had to pivot to the virtual.  The fact that M3AAWG came through as strongly as it did is a testament to the talents of the M3AAWG staff and the vibrancy of the M3AAWG community.

What is one of your best memories or proudest moments with M3AAWG?

My thoughts are full of all kinds of great memories from M3AAWG, far too many to list here.  Perhaps the great theme that runs through them, however, is they are memories of people.  That is what I take with me from my time at M3AAWG, the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built.

Because I’ve held so many roles in the organization, I got to see several different ways that M3AAWG evolved.  And as such, if I had to pin one thing I am the most proud of, it is the launch of the M3AAWG anti-harassment policy, now part of the omnibus M3AAWG conduct policy.  It may seem mundane, but the development of that policy stands out to me as a turning point for M3AAWG.  It is something I am very proud to have helped bring into being, and that I can say I made this organization a bit better, a bit more inclusive, a bit more of a community. 

What role has M3AAWG played in your career?

You could argue that the last 10 years of my career are directly built upon my time at M3AAWG.  The jobs I’ve held during that time have all come about because of the connections I made during my time attending M3AAWG.  I would not be where I am today without M3AAWG, that’s for sure.

What advice do you have for someone getting started in M3AAWG?

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, and realize that all of us were noobies at one point.  What I mean by that is don’t spend a ton of time trying to figure out the “best” way to engage, just pick something and go.  You’ll find the M3AAWG community is remarkably open to new volunteers and new participants.

What is your greatest fear/hope for the online security/anti-abuse industry?

My greatest fear is that the relative success that we’ve had through organizations such as M3AAWG will make us complacent against future threats.  My hope is that this complacency is well deserved, because M3AAWG has made us fundamentally safer.

Members like Chris Roosenraad established the foundation for M3AAWG’s efforts, building a legacy of work that has made a significant impact in the fight against online abuse over the past two decades. Roosenraad, together with M3AAWG peers within the industry, created a trusted network to share diverse skill sets and information that aided in solving problems and creating potent strategies for combating online abuse. We are prepared to develop best practices and techniques to overcome today’s challenges because of the strength of this network.  We extend our sincere thanks to Roosenraad and recognize that his contributions have helped us to see our future: a world free of online abuse.  


The views expressed in DM3Z are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect M3AAWG policy.