Re: If Muslims are blocked by the U.S., should the IETF respond?

Phillip Hallam-Baker <> Mon, 30 January 2017 18:05 UTC

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From: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2017 13:05:37 -0500
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Subject: Re: If Muslims are blocked by the U.S., should the IETF respond?
To: Emily Shepherd <>
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On Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 5:14 PM, Emily Shepherd <>

> On Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 04:34:20PM -0500, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>> No, I don't think this is a meeting venue issue. It is a policy issue and
>> thus a question for the whole IETF.
> The IETF is the Internet Engineering Task Force. This is not an Internet
> Engineering issue and thus not appropriate discussion for the IETF.

​To make such a statement is to overlook the fact that the development of
communications technology is inevitably a political activity.

During the cold war, the countries in Europe developed five different
television standards. This was not, as is often claimed merely due to the
desire to introduce non tariff trade barriers, and would in any case have
been pointless if so.

The primary design constraint on the design of the West German colour TV
system​ was to enable viewers in East Germany to watch. And the placement
of every TV antenna in West Germany was designed to achieve maximal reach
into East Germany. I know because I worked with the people who did the

In the early 1990s, there were a dozen network hypertext systems emerging,
at least four of which were considerably better resourced than the Web. The
Web was not even the largest such system when went online.
The White House adopted the Web in part due to the fact that they had clear
title to the NCSA code and the CERN code was public domain. But the reason
the server was deployed was as part of what Carville called the
'disintermediation' strategy, a term that originated with the same MIT
nexus that had such firm opinions on the placement of TV antennas.

No matter how any of us may feel about any US policy it would be wildly
> inappropriate to confuse the IETF's mission with such discussions. If you
> want to object to them, that is fine but it should be done outside of the
> IETF. In fact, every single IETF contributor could protest, or indeed
> support, any political policy in unison if they wanted, as long as they
> don't do it in the IETF's name.

​Take a look at the IETF mission statement and you will find that it is
entirely circular in form. The IETF built the Internet and the Internet is
what the IETF builds.

The reason that the meeting venue list isn't the appropriate venue is that
we may well get into the part of the story where it is no longer possible
to do business the old way.

Jari is correct in saying we need to build tools that protect against mass
surveillance. ​But that isn't all we need. There is now abundant evidence
that the communications infrastructures that support democratic political
parties in the US, Germany and France have been attacked by hostile nation
state actors and it is now clear that every country is under attack.

Forget whether it was Russia or whoever last time. From now on it is going
to be open season.

If we are going to defend the system we need a communication infrastructure
where strong end to end cryptographic security is default and has no impact
on the user.