Re: Last Call: Modern Global Standards Paradigm

Alessandro Vesely <> Sat, 11 August 2012 09:39 UTC

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Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2012 11:39:12 +0200
From: Alessandro Vesely <>
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Subject: Re: Last Call: Modern Global Standards Paradigm
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I wish to thank Phillip and Eric for their illuminating comments.

However, I'm still not clear on the role that great powers may play in
the standards development and deployment, compared to that of vested
interests.  Stranger to economics, I may be conflating the concept of
open standard with that of open source, and their relationships with
markets.  I'd be grateful if someone can explain the IETF's position
in this game.

At a first glance, many traits of the IETF look similar to those of
open source organizations:  Voluntary, unpaid participation, free
products, meritocracy, even hairstyle.  However, the hype that the
Modern Global Standards Paradigm poses on industrial and commercial
competition dwarfs the aim at benefiting humanity --"hollow words"
someone said.

With different purposes and techniques, networking giants, closed
countries, and SDOs, all aim at controlling the Internet.  The IETF
has historically been different, AFAIK.  But looking at it going to
sit around a table with the sort of players mentioned in the messages
quoted below, as in a remake of the Congress of Vienna, makes me feel

On Sat 11/Aug/2012 05:09:12 +0200 Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> This has been going on for quite a few years now and I had read many
> iterations before the ITU-T Dubai meeting emerged as the venue of
> choice for the latest push on this idea.
> The real problem is that many of the smaller countries have lost tax
> revenue that used to be collected on international telephone calls and
> Russia and China are offering them the fiction that they will be able
> to recoup that if they bring the net under control. That idea is even
> more attractive to the telecommunications ministers who were getting a
> cut of that revenue.
> I think the idea that the ITU-T is going to write a treaty that
> western governments feel obliged to sign is rather silly. The US has
> had no problem refusing to sign treaties and withdrawing from UN
> charter bodies, none. Europe isn't a pushover either. Does anyone
> really imagine that the Senate is going to ratify any treaty that
> comes out regardless of what it says?
> There is a big difference between aspirational and necessary goals.
> The SCO countries aspirational goal is control of the net. Their
> necessary goal is to ensure that undue US influence over Internet
> governance might lead policy makers to believe that they could impose
> a digital blockade. Now I am pretty sure that the technology does not
> allow them to do that but what really matters is what the policy
> makers believe and there are some individuals who could well be in
> very senior policy making positions who clearly think it does.
> The necessary goal for the US is to maintain the openness of the
> Internet. At least that is what the State dept considers the primary
> goal at the moment. The big liability in the US position is the
> aspirational goal of maintaining control. Take that off the table and
> there would be remarkably little support for the SCO scheme.
> On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 6:52 PM, 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.
>> 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. 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.
>> 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.
>> On Aug 10, 2012, at 9:49 AM, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>>> I think the point needs to be made that standards organizations can
>>> only advise and not dictate.
>>> There is really no risk that ITU-T is going to end up in control of
>>> the technical standards that are implemented by the likes of
>>> Microsoft, Cisco or Google, let alone Apache, Mozilla and the folk on
>>> SourceForge and Github.
>>> The key defect in the ITU-T view of the world is that it is populated
>>> by people who think that they are making decisions that matter. In
>>> practice deciding telephone system standards right now is about as
>>> important as the next revision of the FORTRAN standard, it is not
>>> completely irrelevant but matters a lot more to the people in the
>>> meetings than anyone else.
>>> The strength of the IETF negotiating position comes from the fact that
>>> we cannot dictate terms to anyone. The consensus that matters is not
>>> just consensus among the people developing the specification document
>>> but consensus among the people who are expected to act on it.
>>> ITU-T can certainly set themselves up a Friendship Games if they like
>>> [1]. But they can't force people to show up, let alone implement their
>>> 'requirements'.
>>> From a censorship busting point of view, the best thing that can
>>> happen for us is for the states attempting to gain control of the net
>>> in their country to attempt to standardize their approach. Much easier
>>> to circumvent fixed blocks than the current moving target.
>>> [1]
>>> On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM, IETF Chair <> wrote:
>>>> The IETF Chair and the IAB Chair intend to sign the Affirmation
>>>> of the Modern Global Standards Paradigm, which can be found
>>>> here:
>>>> An earlier version was discussed in plenary, and the IAB Chair called
>>>> for comments on the IETF mail list.  This version includes changes
>>>> that address those comments.
>>>> Th IETF 84 Administrative plenary minutes have been posted, so that
>>>> discussion can be reviewed if desired.  The minutes are here:
>>>> On 8 August 2012, the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors
>>>> approved this version of the document.  The approval process is
>>>> underway at the W3C as well.
>>>> The IETF Chair and the IAB Chair intend to sign the Affirmation in the
>>>> next few weeks. Please send strong objections to the
>>>> and the mailing lists by 2012-08-24.
>>>> Thank you,
>>>>  Russ Housley
>>>>  IETF Chair
>>> --
>>> Website: