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IETF Anti-Harassment Procedures

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 7776.
Authors Pete Resnick , Adrian Farrel
Last updated 2014-03-03
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Internet Engineering Task Force                               P. Resnick
Internet-Draft                               Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
BCP: 25                                                        A. Farrel
Updates: 2418 (if approved)                             Juniper Networks
Intended status: Best Current Practice                 February 20, 2014
Expires: August 24, 2014

                    IETF Anti-Harassment Procedures


   IETF participants must not engage in harassment while at IETF
   meetings, virtual meetings, social events, or on mailing lists.  This
   document lays out procedures for managing and enforcing this policy.

   This initial version is provided as a starting point for discussion
   and does not represent the firm opinions of the authors.
   Furthermore, the ideas presented in this document have not been fully
   discussed and reviewed by the IESG.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 24, 2014.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents

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   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  The Ombudsperson  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     3.1.  Appointing the Ombudsperson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.2.  Qualifications and Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.3.  Term of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.4.  Recompense  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.5.  Removal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.6.  Disputes with the IETF Chair regarding the Ombudsperson .   5
   4.  Handling Reports of Harassment  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Remedies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   6.  Disputes with the Ombudsperson  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   8.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     8.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   0
     8.2.  URIs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9

1.  Introduction

   The IETF has general policies for managing disruptive behavior in the
   context of IETF activities.  In particular, [RFC3184] provides a set
   of guidelines for personal interaction in the IETF, and [RFC2418] and
   [RFC3934] give guidelines for how to deal with disruptive behavior
   that occurs in the context of IETF working group face-to-face
   meetings and on mailing lists.

   However, there is other problematic, often more interpersonal,
   behavior that can occur in the context of IETF activities (meetings,
   mailing list discussions, or social events) that does not directly
   disrupt working group progress, but nonetheless is unacceptable
   behavior between IETF participants.  This sort of behavior, described
   in the IESG Statement on an "IETF Anti-Harassment Policy" [1], is not
   easily dealt with by our normal working group guidelines and
   procedures.  Therefore, this document sets forth procedures to deal
   with such harassing behavior.  These procedures are intended to be
   used when other IETF policies and procedures do not apply or have
   been ineffective.

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   Nothing in this document should be taken to interfere with the due
   process of law for the legal system under the jurisdiction of which
   any harassment takes place.

2.  Definitions

   The following terms are used in this document:

      Reporter: An IETF participant who reports potential harassment to
      the Ombudsperson.

      Respondent: An IETF participant who is claimed to have engaged in
      harassing behavior.

      Ombudsperson: The person who is selected to take reports of
      harassment, evaluate them, and impose appropriate actions and/or
      remedies to address the circumstance.  This word is used in the
      singular throughout this document although multiple ombudspersons
      might serve at any one time.

      Target: An individual IETF participant to whom the potentially
      harassing behavior was directed.

   This document does not attempt to precisely define behavior that
   falls under the set of procedures identified here.  In general,
   disruptive behavior that occurs in the context of an IETF general or
   working group mailing list, or happens in a face-to-face or virtual
   meeting of a working group or the IETF plenary, can be dealt with by
   our normal procedures, whereas harassing behavior that is
   interpersonal is more easily handled by the procedures described
   here.  However, there are certainly plausible reasons to address
   behaviors that take place during working-group meetings using these
   procedures.  This document gives some guidance to those involved in
   these situations in order to decide how to handle particular
   incidents, but in the end the final decision will involve judgment
   and the guidance of the Ombudsperson.

3.  The Ombudsperson

   This section describes the role of the Ombudsperson in terms of their
   appointment, qualifications and training, the length of the term of
   service, any recompense for their service, and how they may be
   removed from service.  The general operational procedures for the
   Ombudsperson are described in Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6.

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3.1.  Appointing the Ombudsperson

   The Ombudsperson is appointed by the IETF Chair.  The appointment is
   solely the responsibility of the IETF Chair although the Chair may
   choose to consult with the IESG, the IAB, and with ISOC.
   Furthermore, the IETF Chair may take opinion from the community.

   The IETF Chair may choose to solicit nominations or advertise the
   post.  This is entirely at the discretion of the IETF Chair.

   The IETF Chair is also free to decide how many people are needed to
   fill the role of Ombudsperson.  This may depend on the skillsets
   available, the work load, and the opinions of the seated
   Ombudsperson.  Furthermore, the IETF Chair may consider elements of
   diversity in making this decision.

3.2.  Qualifications and Training

   It is not expected that there will be candidates with all of the
   necessary ombudsperson skills and training who also have a clear
   understanding and familiarity with the IETF processes and culture.
   The Chair might choose someone with a great deal of professional
   experience evaluating and mediating harassment disputes, but little
   exposure to the IETF, or could select someone with more exposure to
   the IETF community, but without as much experience dealing with
   issues of harassment.  Since all of these attributes may be regarded
   by the IETF Chair as essential for an appointment, the IETF is
   committed to provide funding for necessary training for an appointed

3.3.  Term of Service

   An Ombudsperson shall be appointed for a two year term.  That is, the
   Ombudsperson is making a commitment to serve for two years.  It is
   understood, however, that circumstances may lead an Ombudsperson to
   resign for personal or other reasons.  See also Section 3.5.

   It is entirely at the discretion of the IETF Chair whether a serving
   Ombudsperson is reappointed at the end of their term.

3.4.  Recompense

   An Ombudsperson shall receive no recompense for their services.  This
   includes, but is not limited to:

      IETF meeting fees

      Remuneration for time spent

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      Out-of-pocket expenses (such as telephone charges)

      Travel or accommodation expenses

   The IETF will, however, meet the costs of training when agreed to by
   the IETF Chair as described in Section 3.2.

3.5.  Removal

   The IETF Chair may remove a serving Ombudsperson before the end of
   their term without explanation to the community.  Such an action
   shall not be appealable.  See also Section 6.

3.6.  Disputes with the IETF Chair regarding the Ombudsperson

   If an individual should disagree with an action taken by the IETF
   Chair regarding the appointment, removal, or management of the
   Ombudsperson, that person should first discuss the issue with the
   IESG Chair directly.  If the IESG Chair is unable to resolve the
   issue, the dissatisfied party may appeal to the IESG as a whole.  The
   IESG shall then review the situation and attempt to resolve it in a
   manner of its own choosing.  The procedures of Section 6.5.4 of
   [RFC2026] apply to this sort of appeal.

4.  Handling Reports of Harassment

   Any IETF participant who believes that they or other IETF
   participants have been harassed or may have been harassed may bring
   the concern to the attention of the Ombudsperson.  This can be done
   by email to "" [2], or can be done directly to
   the Ombudsperson.  Direct contact information for the Ombudsperson,
   including the email addresses to which "" is
   forwarded, can be found at .

   The Ombudsperson is expected to be present at the majority of IETF
   meetings and to be available for face-to-face discussions.

   All information brought to the Ombudsperson shall be kept in strict
   confidence.  Any electronic information (such as email messages) that
   needs to be archived shall be encrypted before it is stored.

   When a Reporter brings an incident of potential harassment to the
   Ombudsperson's attention to, the Ombudsperson will discuss the events
   with the Reporter and may give advice including recommendations on
   how the Reporter can handle the issue on their own and strategies on
   how to prevent the issue from arising again.  The Ombudsperson may
   also indicate that the issue would be best handled using regular IETF
   procedures (such as those for dealing with disruptive behavior)

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   outside the context of harassment, and in this case the Ombudsperson
   will provide assistance in using the relevant IETF procedures.  In
   any event, the Ombudsperson will not initiate detailed investigations
   or impose a remedy without agreement to proceed from the Target (or
   the Reporter if there is no individual Target).

   When conducting a detailed investigation of the circumstances
   regarding the complaint of harassment, the Ombudsperson may contact
   the Respondent and request a meeting in person or by a voice call.
   The Respondent is not obliged to cooperate, but the Ombudsperson may
   consider failure to cooperate when determining a remedy (Section 5).

   In all cases the Ombudsperson will strive to maintain confidentiality
   for all parties including the very fact of contact with the

5.  Remedies

   After examining the circumstances regarding the complaint of
   harassment and determining that harassment has taken place, the
   Ombudsperson is expected to choose a remedy that is appropriate to
   the circumstance.  At one end of the spectrum, the Ombudsperson may
   decide that the misbehavior is best handled with the regular IETF
   procedures for dealing with disruptive behavior and may assist the
   Reporter to bring the issue to the attention of the working group
   chair or IESG member who can deal with the incident.  The
   Ombudsperson might also choose simply to discuss the situation with
   the Respondent and come up with a plan such that there is no repeat
   of the harassment.  With the agreement of both parties, the
   Ombudsperson can also help to mediate a conversation between the
   Respondent and the Target (or the Reporter if there is no individual
   Target) in order to address the issue.  Finally, on the other end of
   the spectrum, the Ombudsperson could decide that the Respondent is no
   longer permitted to participate in a particular IETF activity,
   whether it is a mailing list discussion, virtual meeting, or a face-
   to-face activity, up to and including requiring that the Respondent
   can no longer attend a face-to-face IETF meeting and its associated
   activities, either for the remainder of the present meeting or (in
   the extreme) future meetings.

   In determining the appropriate remedy, the Ombudsperson may
   communicate with the Reporter, Target, and Respondent in order to
   assess the impact that the imposition of a remedy might have on any
   of those parties.  However, the Ombudsperson has ultimate
   responsibility for the choice of remedy.

   In all cases, the Ombudsperson informs the Respondent of the decision
   and imposes the remedy as appropriate.  In cases where the remedy is

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   removal from IETF activities, the Ombudsperson will confidentially
   notify the Secretariat of the remedy such that the Secretariat can
   take whatever logistical actions are required to effect the remedy.
   Only the remedy itself shall be disclosed to the Secretariat, not any
   information regarding the nature of the harassment.

6.  Disputes with the Ombudsperson

   If either the Target (or the Reporter if there is no individual
   Target) or the Respondent is dissatisfied with the decision of the
   Ombudsperson, the dissatisfied party should first contact the
   Ombudsperson and discuss the situation.  If the issue cannot be
   resolved through discussion with the Ombudsperson, the issue may be
   raised with the IETF Chair.

   If necessary, the IETF Chair may recuse themself from any part of
   this process and delegate to another member of the IESG.

   The IETF Chair will attempt to resolve the issue in discussion with
   the dissatisfied party and the Ombudsperson.  If this further
   discussion does not bring a satisfactory resolution, the
   Ombudsperson's decision may be formally appealed.  The appeal is
   strictly on the issue of whether the Ombudsperson exercised due
   diligence in both their decision as to whether harassment had taken
   place, as well as in their determination of any appropriate remedy
   that was imposed.  In particular, the purpose of the appeal is not to
   re-investigate the circumstances of the incident.

   All elements of the appeal, including the fact of the appeal, will be
   held in confidence, but will be recorded and held securely for future

   The appeal will be evaluated by the IETF Chair and two other members
   of the IESG, selected by the IETF Chair and confirmed by the
   appellant.  This Appeals Group shall convene as quickly as possible
   to evaluate and decide the appeal.  Where the impacts are immediate
   and related to participation in an ongoing meeting, this shall happen
   in no more than 24 hours after receiving the appeal.  The Appeals
   Group may ask the appellant and the Ombudsperson for statements or
   other information to consider.  If the Appeals Group concludes that
   due diligence was exercised by the Ombudsperson, this shall be
   reported to the appellant and the matter is concluded.  If they find
   that due diligence was not exercised, the Appeals Group shall report
   this to the Ombudsperson, and consult with the Ombudsperson on how to
   complete the due diligence.

   Because of the need to keep the information regarding these matters
   as confidential as possible, the Appeals Group's decision is final

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   with respect to the question of whether the Ombudsperson has used due
   diligence in their decision.  The only further recourse available is
   to claim that the procedures themselves (i.e., the procedures
   described in this document) are inadequate or insufficient to the
   protection of the rights of all parties.  Such appeals may be made to
   the Internet Society Board of Trustees, as described in Section 6.5.3
   of [RFC2026].  Again, even in this circumstance, the particulars of
   the incident at hand will be held in confidence.

      Note: The authors of this draft chose to use the IETF Chair and
      two IESG members as the Appeals Group.  Though not completely
      arbitrary, there are certainly other plausible choices.  The
      authors also recognize that this is a different sort of appeals
      procedure than normal.  However, the normal appeals procedure
      contemplates an openness about the process that the
      confidentiality issues in these cases simply do not allow.

7.  Security Considerations

   "Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may
   be able to realize their full potential." -- Aung San Suu Kyi

8.  References

   [RFC2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [RFC2418]  Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

   [RFC3184]  Harris, S., "IETF Guidelines for Conduct", BCP 54, RFC
              3184, October 2001.

   [RFC3934]  Wasserman, M., "Updates to RFC 2418 Regarding the
              Management of IETF Mailing Lists", BCP 25, RFC 3934,
              October 2004.

8.2.  URIs



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Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

Authors' Addresses

   Pete Resnick
   Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
   5775 Morehouse Drive
   San Diego, CA  92121

   Phone: +1 858 6511 4478

   Adrian Farrel
   Juniper Networks


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