[discuss] What is MSism?

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Fri Apr 4 22:59:59 UTC 2014

David Conrad <drc at virtualized.org> [2014-04-04 15:48:08 -0700]:
> On Apr 4, 2014, at 2:45 PM, S Moonesamy <sm+1net at elandsys.com> wrote:
>>> I asked this earlier on the IETF mailing list, but I'll ask again: how many government officials, other than the U.S., have ever participated in IETF mailing lists or meetings or published in the IETF Journal? (This is not a rhetorical question; I'm actually trying to find out the answer.)
>> I'll read "participated" as making technical contributions.  I do not read all the IETF mailing lists.  My guess is that there are a few people working for governments, excluding the United States, who participate in IETF mailing lists.  The number is low for the United States if I exclude government contractors.
> Actually, the number is (theoretically, at least) zero because participants in the IETF are individuals, not representatives of the organizations that employ them.

As I pointed out to some peers during a talk I gave on Wednesday, the 
only place in IETF where I see institutional affiliations as 
structurally present are in IDs, RFCs, etc.

(One could also glean institutional affiliations through the e-mail 
account used and through e-mail signatures, if used, but that's not 
officially part of the IETF system.)

> If the question is how many individuals who are employed by a government but not the US government participate in the IETF, the number is non-zero, but difficult to establish for a variety of reasons: they are not required to identify themselves, the entities for which they work may or may not be considered "governmental" (e.g., is the employee of a national university considered a government employee? an employee of a national PTT?, a consultant who has multiple contracts, one of which is with a government?), and the definition of "participate" is vague (does reading a mailing list count as participating? posting "me too!" only?), etc.

Article 12 in the Indian constitution defines "state", and the Supreme 
Court of India has spent decades trying to wrangle with that definition 
when they have to decide whether a party before the court is "state" or 
not.  That's a long way of saying: there is no universally agreed-upon 
definition, I agree.

Yet, I think a crude proxy that I would accept for my research purposes 
would be if a participant (even a "me too") uses an official 
governmental e-mail account.  I would, for my purposes, discount 
academics in universities working under a governmental grant, but 
include engineers and scientists working for the military and for 
standards bodies (like the NIST in the US or the BIS in India) and for a 
national telecommunications agency or state monopoly PTT operator, etc.

Pranesh Prakash
Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society
T: +91 80 40926283 | W: http://cis-india.org
Access to Knowledge Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
M: +1 520 314 7147 | W: http://yaleisp.org
PGP ID: 0x1D5C5F07 | Twitter: https://twitter.com/pranesh_prakash

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