Re: [antitrust-policy] Who enforces an Antitrust Policy for the IETF

Marshall Eubanks <> Mon, 16 January 2012 17:05 UTC

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Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 12:05:58 -0500
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From: Marshall Eubanks <>
To: Brian E Carpenter <>
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Cc:, John R Levine <>
Subject: Re: [antitrust-policy] Who enforces an Antitrust Policy for the IETF
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Dear Brian;

On Sun, Jan 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM, Brian E Carpenter
<> wrote:
> On 2012-01-16 14:08, John R Levine wrote:
>> Temporarily skipping over the question of what practical problem this
>> is supposed to solve, I have some practical questions.
>>> If you observe behavior in violation of these guidelines at an IETF
>>> meeting, please do not be silent; formally object.
>> What does that mean?  I hear two guys in the next row talking about
>> product pricing.  I say, hey, you can't talk about that. They laugh at
>> me and continue.  Now what?
> I once heard someone interrupt a speaker by saying "If you don't
> stop talking about that right now, I will leave the room, because
> of advice from my anti-trust lawyer" (or words to that effect; this
> was many years ago). Since this was a pretty prominent IETF
> individual, the speaker shut up immediately.
> The point was that by being in the room during such a conversation
> you could possibly be deemed to have taken part in it. So I'd
> say it would be in your own interest to object or walk out. IANAL.
>> Or if this instruction or something like it goes into the Note Well,
>> it's making every IETF attendee responsible for the behavior of
>> everyone else.  If someone's hauled into court, they're going to say
>> well, gee, the IETF specifically tells people to police anti-trust
>> violations, nobody said anything to us about it, so the IETF agreed
>> with what we did.
>> I have trouble imagining a problem this mess is supposed to solve that
>> is anywhere near as ugly as the swamp it's leading into.
> Yes, wouldn't it be better to position this item as a guideline on
> how to avoid anti-trust issues rather than as a formal rule? The
> responsibility should be clearly on the individuals, not on the IETF.

Many IETF discussions under the NOTE WELL do have some
sort of moderator present - e.g., WG Chairs, BOF Chairs & ADs. If X
feels that Y is saying something improper,
X is likely to complain to the Chair. (When I have seen complaints of abuse of
process before at the IETF, they were directed at the Chairs, not the
person speaking, and I doubt this would be
any different.) It seems to me (but IANAL) that
the Chair will respond in some sense officially, with some
responsibility on the IETF on what they say.

So, this can be a guideline, but there would have to be (IMO) some
IETF responsibility to make sure that Chairs did the right thing.
WG Chair training on this subject might suffice.


>   Brian
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