[discuss] Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?

David Conrad drc at virtualized.org
Sun Mar 23 00:22:37 UTC 2014

[cross posting removed]


On Mar 23, 2014, at 7:18 AM, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:
> Is it really acceptable for the process towards the establishment of global
> standards for sugar intake to be "(co)sponsored" by Coca Cola for example;
> or for that matter for Coca Cola to have a member on the Board of one of the
> key technical bodies making recommendations towards those standards?

By this question, I gather the issue is that you don't understand how the IETF works.

The IETF works in such a way that sponsorship of meetings is honestly and truly irrelevant to how standards are set. IETF standards are defined in open working groups and it's unlikely working group participants will be significantly swayed by the fact that a particular company pays for their cookies during meeting breaks.

Oversimplifying a lot: if the IETF were to take up a setting "the global standard for sugar intake", a working group would be formed in which anyone interested could participate. The working group would then argue publicly about what the standard should be, publishing open documents proposing various values and the reasons for those values.  Eventually, a (rough) consensus (as judged by the working group chair) would be reached in the working group and a draft defining that value would go into an IETF-wide and public "last call". The IESG would then review the last call comments and make a decision as to whether the document should be published as an RFC.

Where in this process do you believe an IETF sponsor could hijack the standard?

The question of whether or not members of "the Board" can influence those standards is slightly different. Again, over-simplifying a lot, IETF standards must be approved by the IESG which is made up of the Area Directors. For sake of argument, one could posit a scenario where an evil company could capture some or all of the IESG (challenging as it would require compromising the Nomcom process or buying off AD members). However the only impact this would have in standards setting would be to delay/block the publication of a document as an RFC. In most cases, this would be unlikely to impact the setting of standards since folks interested in the standard would probably just go an implement the Internet Draft (the pre-RFC document) produced by the working group. The blockage would also be public and obvious. It is also unrelated to sponsorship.

As Stephen said, "you're barking up the wrong tree."


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