Guidelines for Performing Safe Measurement on the Internet

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Last updated 2018-12-12
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Network Working Group                                       I. Learmonth
Internet-Draft                                               Tor Project
Intended status: Informational                         December 12, 2018
Expires: June 15, 2019

       Guidelines for Performing Safe Measurement on the Internet


   Researchers from industry and academia will often use Internet
   measurements as a part of their work.  While these measurements can
   give insight into the functioning and usage of the Internet, they can
   come at the cost of user privacy.  This document describes guidelines
   for ensuring that such measurements can be carried out safely.


   Comments are solicited and should be addressed to the research
   group's mailing list at and/or the author(s).

   The sources for this draft are at:

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
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   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 15, 2019.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2018 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   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.

1.  Introduction

   When performing research using the Internet, as opposed to an
   isolated testbed or simulation platform, means that you research co-
   exists in a space with other users.  This document outlines
   guidelines for academic and industry researchers that might use the
   Internet as part of scientific experiementation.

   Following the guidelines contained within this document is not a
   substitute for any institutional ethics review process you may have,
   although these guidelines could help to inform that process.
   Similarly, these guidelines are not legal advice and local laws
   should be considered before starting any experiment that could have
   adverse impacts on user privacy.

   Considerations are grouped into two categories: those that primarily
   apply to active measurements and those that primarily apply to
   passive measurements.  Some of these considerations may be applicable
   to both depending on the experiment design.

2.  Active measurements

   Active measurements generate traffic.  Performance measurements such
   as TCP throughput testing [RFC6349] or functional measurements such
   as the feature-dependent connectivity failure tests performed by
   [PATHspider] both fall into this category.

2.1.  Use a testbed

   Wherever possible, use a testbed.  An isolated network means that
   there are no other users sharing the infrastructure you are using for
   your experiments.

   When measuring performance, competing traffic can have negative
   effects on the performance of your test traffic and so the testbed
   approach can also produce more accurate and repeatable results than
   experiments using the public Internet.

   WAN link conditions can be emulated through artificial delays and/or
   packet loss using a tool like [netem].  Competing traffic can also be
   emulated using traffic generators.

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2.2.  Only record your own traffic

   When performing measurements be sure to only capture traffic that you
   have generated.  Traffic may be identified by IP ranges or by some
   token that is unlikely to be used by other users.

   Again, this can help to improve the accuracy and repeatability of
   your experiment.  [RFC2544], for performance benchmarking, requires
   that any frames received that were not part of the test traffic are
   discarded and not counted in the results.

2.3.  Be respectful of other's infrastructure

   If your experiment is designed to trigger a response from
   infrastructure that is not your own, consider what the negative
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