Re: Last Call: Modern Global Standards Paradigm

Phillip Hallam-Baker <> Sat, 11 August 2012 16:51 UTC

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Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2012 12:51:40 -0400
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Subject: Re: Last Call: Modern Global Standards Paradigm
From: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
To: John C Klensin <>
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Cc: IAB <>, IETF list <>, Eric Burger <>
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But do not discount the possibility that inducing the US to withdraw
is the objective of certain parties in this little exercise.

On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 10:56 AM, John C Klensin <> wrote:
> --On Friday, August 10, 2012 15:52 -0700 Eric Burger
> <> wrote:
>> PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read what the proposal is. The proposal
>> being put forth is not that the ITU-T wants to write Internet
>> standards. The proposal being put forth is that ONLY ITU-T
>> standards will be the *legal* standards accepted by signatory
>> nations.
>> At best, this would be a repeat of GOSIP in the U.S., where
>> the law was the U.S. government could only buy OSI products.
>> The issue there was the private sector was still free to buy
>> what it wanted and DoD did not really follow the rules and
>> bought TCP/IP instead. TCP/IP in the market killed OSI.
> Eric,
> In the interest of understanding our position in this area as
> well as possible, I don't think the facts support "TCP/IP in the
> market killed OSI" except in a vary narrow sense.  It would be
> much more accurate to say that OSI self-destructed and the
> TCP/IP was then available as a working technology that satisfied
> most of the relevant requirements.  The self-destruction
> resulted from some combination of untested specifications that
> weren't quite implementable in an interoperable ways, promises
> that things would be ready two years in the future (a sliding
> target for more than a decade), gradually growing awareness of
> excessive complexity and too many options, and possibly other
> factors.
> It is worth remembering that in the most critical part of that
> period, the IETF wasn't developing/pushing TCP/IP in the
> marketplace but had its face firmly immersed in the KoolAid
> trough: we even had a TCP/IP transition area  into the 90s.  I
> might even suggest that we have abandoned the principle of
> simple and clear protocols with few options and, in a few cases,
> adopted the "reach consensus by giving all sides their own set
> of options" model that was arguably a large component of what
> made the OSI suite vunerable to self-destruction.  The
> once-legendary speed with which we could do things has also
> yielded to a larger and more process-encumbered IETF.   Today,
> we may have more to fear from ourselves than from the ITU.
> None of that has anything to do with whether the proposed
> statement is appropriate.
>> The difference here is some countries may take their ITR
>> obligations literally and ban products that use non-ITU
>> protocols. Could one go to jail for using TCP/IP or HTTP? That
>> has an admittedly small, but not insignificant possibility of
>> happening.
> What happened last time was that a number of countries banned
> their communications carriers from carrying TCP/IP (or anything
> else) that didn't run over ITU protocols.  Unsurprisingly, those
> bans were fairly effective in countries that were serious about
> them -- and that list of countries was not limited to
> out-of-the-way developing nations.
> Whether that would be realistic today is another question.  The
> Internet is fairly entrenched, things have not gone well for
> countries who have tried to cut it off once it is well
> established, and some experts have even suggested that excessive
> restrictions on the Internet might constitute a non-tariff trade
> barrier.  Relative to the latter and in these fragile economic
> times, one can only speculate on whether countries are more
> afraid of trade limitations and sanctions than of the ITU.
> More important, as Phillip (with whom I generally disagree on
> these sorts of matters) has pointed out, there is a long and
> rather effective history of what countries do when a UN body's
> behavior operates significantly against their national
> interests: they refuse to sign the treaties and, in severe
> cases, withdraw and stop paying dues and assessments.
> Remembering that there is no such thing as a Sector Member from
> a non-Member country, someone who was very cynical about these
> things might even suggest that the most effective way to get the
> ITU out of the Internet would be to have them pass these
> measures in their most extreme form with the medium-term result
> of wrecking their budget and, with it, their ability to
> function.   Or one might speculate that is the reason why ITU's
> senior leadership appears to have largely backed away from the
> most extreme of those proposals.
>> Worse yet, having treaties that obligates countries
>> to ban non-ITU protocols does virtually guarantee a
>> balkanization of the Internet into open and free networking
>> and controlled and censored networking.
> A form of that risk exists whether such treaties are created or
> not.  If a country considers it sufficiently necessary to its
> national interest to withdraw from the Internet and adopt a
> different and non-interoperable set of protocols, it will almost
> certainly do so with or without approval from Geneva.  I believe
> we should make that process as easy as possible for them,
> designing things so that they can't hurt others when they do so.
> Countries who isolate themselves from contemporary
> communications technologies have not been treated well by
> history, economics, or their own populations.
> We also should not discount some possible advantages: for
> example, the withdrawal of a few selected countries from the
> Internet and enforced requirements there to use only
> non-interoperable protocols could do wonders to reduce the
> amount of malicious spam introduced into the network.  :-(
>> Just as it is not fair to say that if the ITU-T gets its way
>> the world will end, it is also not fair to say there is no
>> risk to allowing the ITU-T to get a privileged, NON-VOLUNTARY,
>> position in the communications world.
> Certainly there are risks.  And certainly we should be aware of
> those risks and think through the various strategies we and
> others might adopt.  But let's not confuse ourselves with
> specious arguments about disaster scenarios.
> Again, it seems to me that none of the above has much to do with
> whether this statement should be issued.
>    john