Re: [Pearg] I-D Action: draft-irtf-pearg-censorship-04.txt

Joseph Lorenzo Hall <> Tue, 04 August 2020 20:31 UTC

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From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <>
To: Eliot Lear <>
CC: Eric Rescorla <>, Mallory Knodel <>, "" <>, Vittorio Bertola <>
Thread-Topic: [Pearg] I-D Action: draft-irtf-pearg-censorship-04.txt
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2020 20:31:34 +0000
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Subject: Re: [Pearg] I-D Action: draft-irtf-pearg-censorship-04.txt
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On Aug 4, 2020, at 3:47 PM, Eliot Lear <<>> wrote:

Where I think we get to have more of a voice is how those terms apply to us and our industry, and that is something we shouldn’t duck.  Therefore, my view is that we should go with a definition that would be generally acceptable to appropriate experts, if there is one.  I will note that the Wikipedia one has changed in the time you wrote the document, which does lead to a concern about stability.   You could otherwise hedge along the lines Vittorio is suggesting or in some other way.

A quick clarification: When one cites wikipedia, there are specific ways to do that to make sure that the thing you cite to does not change. So, in the draft, we do this:

              Wikipedia contributors, "Censorship", 2020,

Which points to a specific historical instance of the Wikipedia page on censorship (rather than whatever it is now). So, technically, the definition that we are using has not changed. That being said, the current definition differs from what we point to by one word, and I do like the more current version (changes “corporations” to “controlling bodies”) but it’s not a big enough change to me remarkable in my opinion.

But then we should also at least briefly state how the term applies in our context, so as to make clear that the intent is not to label every network administrator a censor.  Keep in mind that there are a great many devices on the network that will process content that have no UI, that have very limited ability to protect themselves.  Explaining how that protection is viewed is a bit broader than the scope of the current document, but would not be out of line for this group to cover, if only for a few lines.

There is also a human element that also needs to be captured in this context that a few of us noted: there are negative connotations with the word, as there should be (IMHO).  I would encourage HR people to appreciate those connotations and not to weaken them by attempting to stretch the definition beyond what you believe is really bad for society, as you will otherwise inure people to the very thing you wish to prevent.

All of this having been said, if you do want to continue on the discussion of the definition:

On 4 Aug 2020, at 19:19, Joseph Lorenzo Hall <<>> wrote:

I’m not sure consent vs. non-consent will address Vittorio or Eliot’s critiques here, I suspect not.

For my part it’s pretty close, my caveat being that the it would not be censorship if the owner of the device receiving the content in particular either did or would have freely and expressly given consent to certain harmful content being blocked.  I’ll readily note that is not a testable condition in advance, although it would be in retrospect.  Look at it this way: if your neighbor sees a robber breaking into your house while you are on vacation, would you like the neighbor to wait for permission to protect your property?  Surely not.

Thanks, Eliot (sorry for double-l-ing you earlier!).

I think I’m starting to see the outlines of a paragraph that capture this… I’ve heard from a few people that are on vacation that can’t opine until next week at the earliest, so I’ll wait to hear more and then take a shot at it.

best, Joe

(work at ISOC, here as my self)

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior Vice President, Strong Internet<> | +1-703-483-9504<> | @internetsociety