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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 2015-03-05 (Latest revision 2015-01-06)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd Ines Robles
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2015-01-16
IESG IESG state Became RFC 7776 (Best Current Practice)
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Jari Arkko
Send notices to,,, "Ines Robles" <>
IANA IANA review state IANA OK - No Actions Needed
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                   January 6, 2015
Expires: July 6, 2015

                    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 document updates RFC 2418.

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 July 10, 2015.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2015 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
   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

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   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 Ombudsteam  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.1.  Size of the Ombudsteam  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.2.  Appointing the Ombudsteam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.3.  Professional Advisors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.4.  Qualifications and Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.5.  Term of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.6.  Recompense  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.7.  Removal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.8.  Disputes with the IETF Chair regarding the Ombudsteam . .   6
   4.  Handling Reports of Harassment  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.1.  Ombudsteam Operating Practices  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   5.  Remedies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.1.  Remedy is Not Punishment  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  Disputes with the Ombudsteam  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   7.  Conflicts of Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   8.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   9.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   10. Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   11. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     11.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     11.2.  URIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12

1.  Introduction

   The IETF has general policies for managing disruptive behavior in the
   context of IETF activities.  In particular, [RFC7154] 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 previously existing working group guidelines
   and procedures.  Therefore, this document sets forth procedures to
   deal with such harassing behavior.  These procedures are intended to

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   be used when other IETF policies and procedures do not apply or have
   been ineffective.

   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.  Similarly, it does not release any
   person from any contractual or corporate policies to which they may
   be subject.

2.  Definitions

   The following terms are used in this document:

      IETF Participant: Anyone who participates in an IETF activity,
      including IETF support staff.

      Reporter: An IETF Participant who reports potential harassment to
      an Ombudsperson.

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

      Ombudsteam: A group of people who have been selected to take
      reports of potential harassement, evaluate them, and impose
      appropriate actions and/or remedies to address the circumstance.

      Ombudsperson: A member of the Ombudsteam.

      Lead Ombudsperson: The Ombudsperson assigned to be the primary
      contact person for a particular report of potential harassment.

      Subject: An individual, group, or class of IETF Participant to
      whom the potentially harassing behavior was directed or who might
      be subject to the behavior.

   The IESG statement on harassment [2] defines harassment as "unwelcome
   hostile or intimidating behavior, in particular speech and behavior
   that is sexually aggressive or intimidates based on attributes like
   race, gender, religion, age, color, national origin, ancestry,
   disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity."  This document
   adopts that definition and does not attempt to further precisely
   define behavior that falls under the set of procedures identified
   here except to note that it may be targeted at an individual,
   directed at a specific group of people, or more generally impacting a
   broader class of people.  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

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   harassing behavior that is interpersonal is more easily handled by
   the procedures described here.  However, there are 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 the final decision will involve judgment
   and the guidance of the Ombudsteam.

3.  The Ombudsteam

   This section describes the role of the Ombudsteam in terms of the
   appointment of Ombudspersons, their 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 Ombudsteam are described in Section 4, Section 5,
   and Section 6.

3.1.  Size of the Ombudsteam

   The Ombudsteam shall comprise no fewer than three people.  From time
   to time, the size may fall below that number owing to changes in
   membership, but the team will be rapidly brought up to size through
   new appointments.  The team may be grown to a larger size as
   described in Section 3.2

3.2.  Appointing the Ombudsteam

   The Ombudsteam is appointed by the IETF Chair.  The appointment is
   solely the responsibility of the IETF Chair who may choose to consult
   with members of the IETF community.

   The IETF Chair is encouraged to appoint at least some of the
   Ombudsteam from within the IETF 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 to appoint more than three
   Ombudspersons to the Ombudsteam.  This may depend on the skillsets
   available, the work load, and the opinions of the seated Ombudsteam.
   Furthermore, the IETF Chair may consider elements of diversity in
   making this decision.

3.3.  Professional Advisors

   It is recognized that the Ombudsteam may need to call on professional
   services from external advisors for certain matters including legal

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   and Human Resources (HR) advice.  The IETF is committed to funding
   such advice on an "as needed" basis.

3.4.  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 the team, the IETF is committed to
   providing training (or funding for it) as deemed necessary for
   appointed Ombudspersons.  In determining the appropriate training,
   the IETF chair and Ombudsteam shall take professional advice and will
   consult with the IAOC with respect to the overall IETF budget.

3.5.  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 3.7.

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

3.6.  Recompense

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

   o  IETF meeting fees

   o  Remuneration for time spent

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

   o  Travel or accommodation expenses

   The IETF will, however, meet the costs of training when agreed to by
   the IETF Chair as described in Section 3.4.

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3.7.  Removal

   The IETF Chair may remove a serving Ombudsperson before the end of
   their term without explanation to the community.  Such an action
   shall be appealable as described in Section 3.8.

   An Ombudsperson shall not be removed from service, even if their term
   has expired, during the period that the IETF Chair is recused as
   described in Section 7.  Once the case that led to the Chair being
   recused has been closed, normal processes resume.

3.8.  Disputes with the IETF Chair regarding the Ombudsteam

   If an individual should disagree with an action taken by the IETF
   Chair regarding the appointment, removal, or management of an
   Ombudsperson or the Ombudsteam, that person should first discuss the
   issue with the IETF Chair directly.  If the IETF 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 have been harassed, or
   that any other IETF Participant or group of IETF Participants has
   been or may have been harassed, may bring the concern to the
   attention of any serving Ombudsperson.  This can be done by email to
   "" [3], or can be done directly to a chosen
   Ombudsperson.  Direct contact information for the Ombudsteam,
   including the email addresses to which "" is
   forwarded, can be found at .

   When a Reporter brings an incident of potential harassment to the
   attention of the Ombudsteam, a single Ombudsperson shall be
   designated as the primary contact person (the Lead Ombudsperson) for
   the report.  When the Reporter contacts a single Ombudsperson, that
   Ombudsperson shall be the Lead Ombudsperson for the report unless
   mutually agreed between the Reporter and that Ombudsperson.

   The Lead Ombudsperson may share any information regarding the report
   with the rest of the Ombudsteam except when an Ombudsperson is
   recused (see Section 7).  If a Reporter believes that a member of the
   Ombudsteam should recuse themself, they should make this known to the
   Lead Ombudsperson as soon as possible.

   The Lead Ombudsperson will discuss the events with the Reporter and
   may give advice including recommendations on how the Reporter can

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   handle the issue on their own as well as strategies on how to prevent
   the issue from arising again.  The Lead Ombudsperson may also
   indicate that the issue would be best handled using regular IETF
   procedures (such as those for dealing with disruptive behavior)
   outside the context of harassment, and in this case the Lead
   Ombudsperson will provide assistance in using the relevant IETF
   procedures.  Otherwise, with agreement to proceed from the Subject
   (or the Reporter if there is no individual Subject), the Ombudsteam
   may initiate detailed investigation of the matter, and may
   subsequently impose a remedy as described in Section 5.

4.1.  Ombudsteam Operating Practices

   The Ombudsteam is responsible for devising and documenting their
   operating practices.  These practices must be discussed with the IESG
   and published in a publicly visible place (such as on the IETF web
   site).  Discussion with the IETF community is encouraged and, while
   IETF consensus is not necessary, significant objection to the
   processes that are not addressed should result in an RFC 2026
   Section 6.5.3 appeal and/or a recall petition against the IETF Chair
   (and the rest of the IESG if appropriate) if they do not address the

   The practices must include at least the following high-level

      Each member of the Ombudsteam is expected to be present at the
      majority of IETF meetings and to be available for face-to-face
      discussions.  The Ombudsteam is expected to arrange itself so that
      there is coverage of every IETF meeting by at least one

      All information brought to the Ombudsteam 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
      using tools similar to those used by NomCom.

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

      The Ombudsteam shall endeavor to complete its investigation in a
      timely manner.

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      Any individuals who make a good faith report of harassment or who
      cooperate with an investigation shall not be subject to
      retaliation for reporting, complaining, or cooperating, even if
      the investigation, once completed, shows no harassment occurred.
      Anti-retaliation is noted here to alleviate concerns individuals
      may have with reference to reporting an incident they feel should
      be reviewed.

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

   When investigating reports and determining remedies, it is up to the
   Ombudsteam whether they choose to act as a body or delegate duties to
   the Lead Ombudsperson.

5.  Remedies

   After examining the circumstances regarding the complaint of
   harassment the Ombudsteam should prepare a brief summary of the
   incident and their conclusions and discuss this with all parties.
   The objective of this step is to make clear what the Ombudsteam has
   concluded, and to make an attempt at getting all parties to reach

   If the Ombudsteam determines that harassment has taken place, the
   Ombudsteam is expected to determine the next action.

      In some cases a mechanism or established IETF process may already
      exist for handling the specific event.  In these cases the
      Ombudsteam 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

      In other cases there is a spectrum of remedies that may be
      appropriate to the circumstances.  At one end of the spectrum, the
      Ombudsteam might choose 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
      Ombudsteam can also help to mediate a conversation between the
      Respondent and the Subject (or the Reporter if there is no
      individual Subject) in order to address the issue.

      At the other end of the spectrum the Ombudsteam could decide that
      the Respondent is no longer permitted to participate in a
      particular IETF activity, for example, ejecting them from a

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      meeting or requiring that the Respondent can no longer attend
      future meetings.  (The Ombudsteam can recommend, but can not
      impose, that a Respondent who is in a IETF management position be
      removed from that position.  There are existing mechanisms within
      IETF process for the removal of people from IETF management
      positions that may be used as necessary.)

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

      In all cases, the Lead Ombudsperson informs the Respondent of the
      decision and imposes the remedy as appropriate.  In cases where
      the remedy is removal from IETF activities, the Lead 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.

5.1.  Remedy is Not Punishment

   It is understood that the purpose of a remedy is not punishment.
   That is, the remedy is imposed solely to try to make sure that the
   incident does not escalate and to ensure that a similar situation is
   unlikely to occur with the same Respondent in the future.

   A remedy is not to be imposed for the purposes of retribution or as a
   deterrent to others.  It is also not intended to teach the community
   how to behave - please see RFC 7154 for guidelines for conduct in the
   IETF.  The Ombudsteam are expected to apply considerations of
   proportionality and reasonableness in selecting a remedy, and are
   asked to consider the impact of the remedy on the Respondent as well
   as on the Subject.

6.  Disputes with the Ombudsteam

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

   If necessary, the IETF Chair may recuse themself from any part of
   this process (see Section 7) and request the IESG to select another

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   of its members to serve in this role.  This IESG member is known as
   the "delegated IESG member".

   The IETF Chair (or the delegated IESG member if the Chair is recused)
   will attempt to resolve the issue in discussion with the dissatisfied
   party and the Lead Ombudsperson.  If this further discussion does not
   bring a satisfactory resolution, the Ombudsteam's decision may be
   formally appealed.  The appeal is strictly on the issue of whether
   the Ombudsteam 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 or to negotiate the severity of the remedy.

   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 (or the delegated IESG
   member) and two other members of the IESG selected by the IETF Chair
   (or the delegated IESG member) and confirmed by the appellant.  This
   Appeals Group shall convene as quickly as possible to evaluate and
   determine 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 Lead Ombudsperson for statements or other
   information to consider.  If the Appeals Group concludes that due
   diligence was exercised by the Ombudsteam, this shall be reported to
   the appellant and the matter is concluded.  If the Appeals Group
   finds that due diligence was not exercised, the Appeals Group shall
   report this to the Ombudsteam, and consult with the Ombudsteam 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
   with respect to the question of whether the Ombudsteam 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 a claim may be made in
   an appeal 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.

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7.  Conflicts of Interest

   In the event of any conflict of interest, the conflicted person
   (member of the Obmudsteam, member of the Appeals Group, IETF Chair,
   etc.) is expected to recuse themselves.

   A conflict of interest may arise if someone involved in the process
   of handling a harassment report is in the role of Reporter,
   Respondent, or Subject.  Furthermore, a conflict of interest arises
   if the person involved in the process of handling a harassment report
   is closely associated personally or through affiliation with any of
   the Reporter, Respondent, or Subject.

   For the avoidance of doubt, recusal in this context means completely
   stepping out of any advisory or decision-making part of any process
   associated with handling a harassment report, remedy arising from a
   harassment report, or appeal into the handling of a harassment
   report.  That means that a recused person has no more right to
   participate in or witness the process than any other person from the
   community in the same situation.  For example, therefore, an
   Ombudsperson subject to a complaint of harassment shall not be privy
   to the deliberations of another Ombudsperson handling the report.
   Nor would an IESG member who was party to an appeal be able to
   witness the discussions of the Appeals Group.

   In the event that there is an appeal and the IETF Chair is somehow
   involved, the Chair will immediately recuse themself and the IESG
   will select a single person to take the Chair's role in the appeal
   process as described in Section 6.

8.  IANA Considerations


9.  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

10.  Acknowledgements

   The text in this document benefited from the lively discussion on the mailing list.  Thanks to everyone who participated.

   Specific changes to this document resulted from comments by
   Abdussalam Baryun, Alessandro Vesely, S Moonesamy, Timothy B.
   Terriberry, John Levine, Andrea Glorioso, Dave Crocker, John Leslie,
   Linda Klieforth, Brian Carpenter, Mary Barnes, Spencer Dawkins,

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   Michael StJohns, and Alissa Cooper.  The authors would like to
   express their gratitude.

11.  References

11.1.  Normative 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.

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

   [RFC7154]  Moonesamy, S., "IETF Guidelines for Conduct", BCP 54, RFC
              7154, March 2014.

11.2.  URIs




Authors' Addresses

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

   Phone: +1 858 651 4478

   Adrian Farrel
   Juniper Networks


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