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

Brian E Carpenter <> Mon, 16 January 2012 03:05 UTC

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Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 16:05:23 +1300
From: Brian E Carpenter <>
Organization: University of Auckland
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To: John R Levine <>
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Subject: Re: [antitrust-policy] Who enforces an Antitrust Policy for the IETF
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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.