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

Phillip Hallam-Baker <> Mon, 30 January 2017 20:02 UTC

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From: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2017 15:02:09 -0500
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Subject: Re: If Muslims are blocked by the U.S., should the IETF respond?
To: Brian E Carpenter <>
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On Sun, Jan 29, 2017 at 11:14 PM, Brian E Carpenter <> wrote:

> On 30/01/2017 16:49, Jeffrey Altman wrote:
> ...
> > The IETF is an international organization whose members...
> Not actually. The IETF is not an international organization
> (I know, because I used to work for one) and it doesn't have members.
> Legally, it's unclear that it's an organization at all, or in which
> country it might be based.
> I also suspect that for some days or weeks, getting a straight answer
> about the impact on IETF98 attendees may be impossible, but I agree
> that the IASA should ask.

​I have worked at several international organizations, including CERN and I
have also read quite a bit on law.​

CERN is an international treaty organization established on the same bnasis
as the ITU and other intergovernmental bodies. It is an 'International
organization' the same way that WalMart is a retailer. Just as there are
many retailers that are smaller than Walmart, there are many international
organizations that are smaller than Walmart.

The World Croquet Federation is also an international organization. It is
not a treaty organization. Nor does it have diplomatic status.

​As for the IETF not being an organization, ​the only opinion on the matter
that would matter is the courts. And if the question ever came up in court,
I can guarantee that the first question to follow the statement 'we are not
an organization' would be 'then what are you'. Remember that in common law,
a contract that explicitly states it isn't a contract is still a binding
contract if it meets the requirements.

The fiction that the IETF is not an organization would not last five
minutes. Nor are its arrangements particularly complex. The only real
impact of not incorporating IETF as a separate organization subordinate to
ISOC is that ISOC is not insulated from any litigation against IETF.

​The aspect of the current situation that I think people should focus on is
that the primary design goal of the current arrangements was to prevent
capture of the IETF process by what were considered to be hostile foreign
powers. What appears to have been overlooked is the possibility of attack
by hostile domestic powers.​