Network Working Group                                      M. Nottingham
Internet-Draft                                            March 28, 2017
Intended status: Best Current Practice
Expires: September 29, 2017

                     The Internet is for End Users


   This document requires that Internet Standards consider end users as
   their highest priority concern.

Note to Readers

   The issues list for this draft can be found at .

   The most recent (often, unpublished) draft is at .

   Recent changes are listed at
   pages/for-the-users .

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
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 29, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 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
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   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  Notational Conventions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  The Internet is for End Users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     5.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     5.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Appendix B.  Frequently Asked Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     B.1.  How will this impact my standard / Working Group / etc.?    6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   The IETF, while focused on technical matters, is not neutral about
   the purpose of its work in developing the Internet [RFC3935]:

      The IETF community wants the Internet to succeed because we
      believe that the existence of the Internet, and its influence on
      economics, communication, and education, will help us to build a
      better human society.

   However, the IETF is most comfortable making what we believe to be
   purely technical decisions; our process is defined to favor technical
   merit, through our well-known bias towards "rough consensus and
   running code".

   Nevertheless, the running code that results from our process (when
   things work well) inevitably has an impact beyond technical
   considerations, because the underlying decisions afford some uses,
   while discouraging others; while we believe we are making purely
   technical decisions, in reality that may not be possible.  Or, in the
   words of Lawrence Lessig [CODELAW]:

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      Ours is the age of cyberspace.  It, too, has a regulator... This
      regulator is code -- the software and hardware that make
      cyberspace as it is.  This code, or architecture, sets the terms
      on which life in cyberspace is experienced.  It determines how
      easy it is to protect privacy, or how easy it is to censor speech.
      It determines whether access to information is general or whether
      information is zoned.  It affects who sees what, or what is
      monitored.  In a host of ways that one cannot begin to see unless
      one begins to understand the nature of this code, the code of
      cyberspace regulates.

   This impact has become significant.  As the Internet increasingly
   mediates key functions in societies, it has unavoidably become
   profoundly political; it has helped people overthrow throw
   governments and revolutionize social orders, control populations and
   reveal secrets.  It has created wealth for some individuals and
   companies, while destroying others'.

   All of this raises the question: Who do we go through the pain of
   rough consensus and write that running code for?

   There are a variety of identifiable parties in the larger Internet
   community that standards can provide benefit to, such as (but not
   limited to) end users, network operators, schools, equipment vendors,
   specification authors, specification implementers, content owners,
   governments, non-governmental organisations, social movements,
   employers, and parents.

   Successful specifications will provide some benefit to all of the
   relevant parties, because standards do not represent a zero-sum game.
   However, there are often situations where we need to balance the
   benefits of a decision between two (or more) parties.

   To help clarify such decisions, Section 2 mandates that end users
   have the highest priority.

   Doing so helps the IETF achieve its mission, and also helps to assure
   the long-term health of the Internet.  By prioritising the concerns
   of end users, we assure that it reaches the greatest number of
   people, thereby delivering greater utility by maximising its network

1.1.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

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2.  The Internet is for End Users

   Internet standards MUST consider the end users of the Internet to
   have priority over every other party.

   While networks need to be managed, employers and equipment vendors
   need to meet business goals, and so on, the IETF's mission is to
   "build a better human society" [RFC3935] and - on the Internet -
   society is composed of what we call "end users."

   By "end users", we mean non-technical users whose activities our
   protocols are designed to support.  Thus, the end user of a protocol
   to manage routers is not a router administrator; it is the people
   using the network that the router operates within.

   This does not mean that the IETF community has any specific insight
   into what is "good for end users"; as always, we will need to
   interact with the greater Internet community and apply our process to
   help us make decisions, deploy our protocols, and ultimately
   determine their success or failure.

   It does mean that when a proposed solution to a problem has a benefit
   to some other party at the identified expense of end users, we will
   find a different solution or find another way to frame the problem.

   There may be cases where genuine technical need requires compromise.
   However, such tradeoffs need to be carefully examined, and avoided
   when there are alternate means of achieving the desired goals.  If
   they cannot be, these choices and reasoning SHOULD be carefully

   For example, IPv6 [RFC2460] identifies each client with a unique
   address - even though this provides a way to track end user activity
   and helps identify them - because it is technically necessary to
   provide networking (and despite this, there are mechanisms like
   [RFC4941] to mitigate this effect, for those users who desire it).

   Finally, this requirement only comes into force when an explicit
   conflict between the interests of end users and other relevant
   parties is encountered (e.g., by being brought up in the Working
   Group).  It does not imply that a standards effort needs to be
   audited for user impact, or every decision weighed against end user

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3.  IANA Considerations

   This document does not require action by IANA.

4.  Security Considerations

   This document does not have direct security impact; however, failing
   to apply it might affect security negatively in the long term.

5.  References

5.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/
              RFC2119, March 1997,

5.2.  Informative References

   [CODELAW]  Lessig, L., "Code Is Law: On Liberty in Cyberspace", 2000,

   [RFC2460]  Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6
              (IPv6) Specification", RFC 2460, DOI 10.17487/RFC2460,
              December 1998, <>.

   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF", BCP
              95, RFC 3935, DOI 10.17487/RFC3935, October 2004,

   [RFC4941]  Narten, T., Draves, R., and S. Krishnan, "Privacy
              Extensions for Stateless Address Autoconfiguration in
              IPv6", RFC 4941, DOI 10.17487/RFC4941, September 2007,

   [RFC7282]  Resnick, P., "On Consensus and Humming in the IETF", RFC
              7282, DOI 10.17487/RFC7282, June 2014,

Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Edward Snowden for his comments regarding the priority of
   end users at IETF93.

   Thanks to Harald Alvestrand for his substantial feedback and Stephen
   Farrell, Joe Hildebrand, Russ Housley, Niels ten Oever, and Martin
   Thomson for their suggestions.

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Appendix B.  Frequently Asked Questions

B.1.  How will this impact my standard / Working Group / etc.?

   The most noticeable thing that this document changes is a situation
   where a proposal is made to do something that disadvantages end
   users, for the benefit of another party (e.g., network operators).

   If the Working Group reaches consensus (even rough, as per [RFC7282])
   that this is the case, then there is no need for debate about whose
   interests are most important; it has been made clear.  Instead, the
   Working Group can go on to finding other solutions that don't
   disadvantage end users, or (if need be) document why there is no
   other choice.

   Such documentation might already be required; e.g., as part of
   Security Considerations.

Author's Address

   Mark Nottingham


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