Re: Montevideo statement

Dave Crocker <dhc@dcrocker.net> Thu, 10 October 2013 17:06 UTC

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Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 06:05:54 +1300
From: Dave Crocker <dhc@dcrocker.net>
Organization: Brandenburg InternetWorking
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Subject: Re: Montevideo statement
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On 10/8/2013 11:34 AM, IETF Chair wrote:
> I wanted to send a link to a statement that Russ and I signed as a
> part of a meeting that we held last week with the leaders of other
> Internet organisations.
>
> http://www.internetsociety.org/news/montevideo-statement-future-internet-cooperation


Folks,

There are a few things that we should consider rather more carefully
than we've been doing, beyond a few of the postings. (I'd especially 
like to suggest that there be more careful review of Andrew Sullivan's 
postings on the thread, since he raises essential point, in my view.)

In any event:

      1. In spite of calling itself a press release (at the bottom) and
having gone through an ISOC media person, what was released was not a
press release.   Neither in form nor substance.  Its title says
"statement", and the bottom list of people is in the style of a
signature list, rather than merely listing attendees -- and note that 
Jari does characterize this as being signed.  Hence what was released 
was in the style of a formal statement, issued under the control of its 
signatories.

      2. The statement does not merely say that these folk met and
discussed stuff.  It says they agreed to stuff, or at leased "called 
for" stuff.

      3. These people were acting as representatives of their
organizations; hence the use of their titles.  And the statement does
not explicitly say they were speaking only for themselves.  So their
agreement to the Statement needs to be taken as their speaking for their
organizations.

      4. Having both IETF Chair and IAB Chair makes it look like there 
were two organizations being represented, but in practical terms there 
really weren't.

      5. It has been noted that the IAB is largely autonomous for 
something like this; hence the IAB Chair formally only has to answer to 
the IAB itself, and we are told he was in this case.  What this begs is 
a question about the IAB acting independently of the IETF community...


My initial reading of the Statement was that it was quite benign, so
that any concern about it's speaking for the IETF was purely a matter of
principle.  In that regard, I considered it a nice test case for some
basic IETF discussion of the authority of our 'leaders' to make 
statements on our behalf but without our review or approval.  Then I 
re-read the statement more carefully and landed on:

> They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA
> functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders,
> including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

     5.  It's not at all clear what "accelerating the globalization" 
means here, since the statement offers no context for whatever 
'globalization' efforts with ICANN and IANA are happening.  Worse, this 
item is entirely political, involving organizations with which the IETF 
has on-going agreements and reliance.  Further, I believe there is no 
IETF context -- nevermind consensus -- for the topic.  As far as I know 
the IETF has no basic discomfort with its relationship with IANA, for 
example.  We might individually make guesses about what this item in the 
Statement means, but my point is that a) we shouldn't have to, and b) it 
has no context within the IETF community.  For any of our 'leaders' to 
make agreements on our behalf, about political issues of organizations 
with which we have formal arrangements -- and probably any other 
organizations -- is significantly problematic.


As has been noted, there are practical and formal limits to requirements 
for getting IETF rough consensus.  Any constraints on public statements 
by IETF leaders needs to balance against those limits, if we are to 
allow folk to speak publicly at all.

      6. The realities of trying to get IETF community rough consensus 
means that anything requiring timely action cannot seek formal 
consensus.  To that end, we need to distinguish between 'review' and 
'approval'.  IETF community review can be very quick indeed, though 
probably not less than 24 hours, if the range of review comments is to 
be a good sampling of the community.  In the current example, community 
review quickly noted the erroneous phrasing that confuses concern about 
disclosure of an act from concern about the act itself.  (I'm working on 
the assumption that the Montevideo group is really more concerned that 
monitoring was/is taking place than that someone made this fact public...)


Now to a more basic issue.  It's likely to be uncomfortable, but I'll 
stress that this isn't about individual people.  Fortunately, no sane 
person can have any concerns about the intent of either of the IETF folk 
who participated in this event and its resulting Statement.  So what 
follows is about IETF roles, responsibilities and authorities, not about 
individuals...

What does it mean to be a 'leader' in the IETF, who is Chair of the IETF 
or the IAB?  Unlike CEOs and Presidents and Chairs of corporations, IETF 
leaders mostly don't lead.  They don't set work agendas. They don't 
control overall budgets.  They don't hire and fire people.  For almost 
all of the formal IETF 'decisions' they participate in, it is with 
exactly one vote in a group, and not more authority than that.  (And by 
the way, the IESG largely does not 'steer' the IETF.  Initiatives for 
work come from the community and very nearly never from ADs or the IESG.)

IETF leaders are best viewed as facilitators, rather than leaders.  They 
do huge amounts of organizing, coordinating, interfacing, in the classic 
style of the cliche'd 'shepherding cats'.

So when they speak on our behalf, it really does need to be an accurate 
rendition of IETF community views and not merely their guesses of those 
views or their hopes of what those views might or should be.

      7. The released Statement was formulated by the group including 
two IETF 'leaders'.  It was not subject to random formulation by a 
reporter, or the like.  When people holding formal IETF roles 
participate in the formulation of formal Statements, things need to be 
carefully based on actual IETF community views.


We need to find some sort of language that gives constructive guidance 
and constraint about public representations of the IETF, by our 
'leaders'.  Not very long ago, there was a concern raised by Pete 
Resnick, when an IETF working group chair made statements at an ITU 
gathering and represented himself as an IETF wg chair.  We might want to 
review whatever guidance came out of that.

d/
-- 
Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking
bbiw.net