IETF Anti-Harassment Procedures
Note: This ballot was opened for revision 05 and is now closed.
Alia Atlas Former IESG member
Yes (for -05) Unknown
Alvaro Retana Former IESG member
Yes (for -09) Unknown
Barry Leiba Former IESG member
Yes (2015-09-30 for -09) Unknown
I've re-reviewed the whole document, as well as focusing on the diffs between the last time and now. In the end I remain a "Yes", because I think it's important that we do this... but I share Alissa's concern about the over-formalized aspect of it. It's a shame that we're in a place where that's necessary. I'm afraid that there's no way we could possibly get consensus for any formal process without the sort of heavyweight specification we now have, which attempts to look into every nook and butter every cranny. I think some of that could be mitigated by some extra stuff at the beginning of Section 4 that makes it clear that the first steps in a harassment complaint could be less formal. A Subject could contact a Reporter, someone the Subject trusts, to get advice. Perhaps that Reporter could work with the Subject to determine a course of action the Subject would feel comfortable with, and that course might include having the Reporter talk less formally with the Respondent or with others who could help the situation. Section 4 might then say that if that sort of thing is not what the Subject wants, or if it's tried and doesn't work, the formal process could be taken on. My point here is to make it clear that there are options -- that this is meant to provide a formal process for when that is needed, but that the most important thing is for harassment issues to be handled in a manner that the Subject feels comfortable with (and that, as Alissa says, the Subject is in control of). I'm leaving this as a non-blocking comment. I know that the informal handling that might happen before a complaint is formally given to the Ombudsteam is out of scope for this document, but I'd like to see some outline included to make it clear that the choices are not to live with the harassment, to leave, or to invoke some Obuds-nuclear-bomb, as it might seem.
Ben Campbell Former IESG member
(was Discuss) Yes
Yes (2015-10-01 for -09) Unknown
I cleared my discuss based on telechat discussion. I'm balloting "yes" because I think we need to have a policy on this, and have reached diminishing returns in attempts to tweak things. We need to close on this and get implementation experience. I hope that we will learn that something lighter weight and less formal will work in the long run. Section 2: -- Reporter vs Subject: There are several mentions of roles the reporter might fill if there is no subject. I assume that also applies to situations where the subject does not want to make themselves known. But it seems to open up the possibility of a reporter pursuing something against the wishes of the subject, and that if a subject exists that person should be able to shut things down at any time. Is that correct, and if so did I miss some place it was covered? -- Stephen brought up the issue about creating a hostile environment, and mentioned the potential for situations where a hostile environment might be reasonable. In the paragraph starting with "This document concerns itself...", there's a reasonableness standard applied to interfering with participation. Does that also apply to creating a hostile or intimidating environment? -- I share Stephen's concern about the last paragraph incorporating laws from jurisdictions that we might not want to incorporate without examination. Section 4: -- Could the 2nd paragraph be expanded to cover some of Alissa's concerns? -- 5th paragraph: "... how the reporter can handle" Or subject? Section 6: "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 reference." Why does an appeal of ombudsteam action require confidentiality beyond that already protected for the subject, reporter, and respondant. More to the point, I'm not sure why an ombudsperson would have an expectation of confidentiality about their own actions, beyond that incident to protecting the other parties.
Benoît Claise Former IESG member
(was Discuss, Yes) Yes
Yes (2015-09-30) Unknown
The IESG statement must be updated with a link to the new BCP. Whether this is done with "This IESG Statement is superseded by BCP xx" or "The IETF's procedures for handling cases of harassment are documented in BCP xx" is less important to me ... even if I have a small preference for the superseded version, as the BCP integrates the IESG statement definition.
Deborah Brungard Former IESG member
Yes (for -09) Unknown
Jari Arkko Former IESG member
(was No Objection, Discuss, Yes) Yes
Yes (for -09) Unknown
Kathleen Moriarty Former IESG member
Yes (2015-10-01 for -09) Unknown
Thanks for your work on this draft. I have no new points to add, but am interested to follow the points raised by several ADs in this second review. I didn't see anything that would prevent someone from multiple 2-year terms, so I think that text is ok if they are up for it as this is very difficult work.
Martin Stiemerling Former IESG member
Yes (for -05) Unknown
Richard Barnes Former IESG member
Yes (2015-03-04 for -05) Unknown
One minor point, and some editorial nits: There are a couple of instances of "... Reporter if there is no individual Subject". Isn't it also possible that there is a specific Subject, but Reporter != Subject? Or in this latter case, does the Reporter's involvement stop after the reporting, with the Subject being responsible afterward? It might be helpful to clarify. Nits: Section 3.3: Are the quotes around "as needed" needed? Section 3.6: Isn't "compensation" more common usage than "recompense"? Section 4. Reference  seems kind of silly. I hope this isn't an indication of the wonders that increased use of XML is expected to bring.
Brian Haberman Former IESG member
(was Yes) No Objection
No Objection (2015-10-01 for -09) Unknown
I share many of the concerns raised in Alissa's Abstain position.
Joel Jaeggli Former IESG member
No Objection (for -05) Unknown
Spencer Dawkins Former IESG member
No Objection (2015-10-01 for -09) Unknown
I'm sympathetic to the complaints people have shared about the level of complexity and formality in this document. https://www.ietf.org/ombudsteam does not yet contain what Section 4 says it should contain (contact information, the list of people that are on the e-mail exploder, etc.). That doesn't matter at approval time, but should probably be updated before we announce approval. I'm sympathetic to the idea that more than one or two people may end up knowing many/most of the details. Perhaps it would be helpful to o The Ombudsteam shall strive to keep all information brought to it in strict confidence. However, it is acknowledged that the operation of the Ombudsteam will necessarily involve sharing of ^^^^ say "may" instead of "will"? information within the team, and may require that the parties to the complaint (the Reporter, Respondent, and Subject) learn some of the confidential information. Thank you for adding Section 5.1. This covers the biggest issue we tripped over in the previous Last Call, and I know it wasn't easy, and I was one of the folks who said "why isn't the recall procedure sufficient?" on the previous iteration, so I probably wasn't as helpful as I wanted to be. I don't know what to call the discussion around Alissa's Abstain ("an absticussion"???), but the proposed changes coming out of it are helping me, too.
Ted Lemon Former IESG member
No Objection (for -05) Unknown
Terry Manderson Former IESG member
No Objection (for -09) Unknown
Alissa Cooper Former IESG member
Abstain (2015-09-30 for -09) Unknown
I am balloting ABSTAIN on this document because I did not manage to find time to provide my thoughts when the document was being developed and discussed in the community. I do regret that. It seems inappropriate to hold it up at this stage and given how much discussion has taken place. When discussions about developing an anti-harassment policy first began I was in favor of the idea for two reasons. First, I thought we could improve the experience of attending IETF meetings by having a trusted person or people whom attendees could talk to and possibly strategize with if the attendees had experienced harassment. Second, I thought it was important to establish publicly the expectation that all attendees be treated with dignity, decency, and respect. The IESG policy accomplishes the second of these goals and this document seems aimed at accomplishing the first, among other things. I do not believe the document accomplishes the first goal, however. This is because the procedures as outlined turn what could have been the key incremental improvement -- having a trusted person for attendees to talk to -- into a legalistic pile of process and communications that I believe will deter victims of harassment from making use of the system at all. When I have a sensitive incident to report, I want to report it to a single person whom I trust. I do not want to have to agree a priori to having that information shared with a team of three people, nor do I want to be re-directed to some other person who I perhaps trust less. I do not want the person to whom I report it to write it down. I just want to talk it through with the person. Then, if we both agree that some further course of action is warranted, I want to be involved in deciding what course of action I am comfortable with, and I want to continue to be involved in deciding whether to proceed at every step of the way, including steps that involve informing ADs, the secretariat, and other parties. I want to reserve the right to change my mind at any time. The problem with the document as written is that it severely disenfranchises the victim of the harassment, to the point where I expect that most victims would be afraid to actually make use of the procedures outlined in the document. Being harassed can be scary. The policies outlined in the document have utterly failed to account for that. Furthermore, the document in sections 5.1 and 6 contemplates all manner of scenarios that may or may not come to pass and specifies detailed procedures for how to handle them. In practice I expect that there are probably scenarios we haven't thought of that will arise, while the ones for which detailed procedures have been specified might never get used. I wish we could have started with an incremental approach that achieves the two goals stated above, and then checked in after some implementation experience to see where the gaps are and what needs beefing up procedurally. Instead we are going from no process to an over-specified process without any implementation experience to build on. I hope I'm wrong about the potential utility of the process specified in the document, but I cannot support it as written.
Stephen Farrell Former IESG member
(was Discuss, Yes) Abstain
Abstain (2015-11-10) Unknown
I'm sorry to move from a yes ballot to an abstain on this one but I think the text has disimproved and some problematic changes have been made since I last reviewed this a while back for -05. I'm entirely happy that the authors have been trying to handle the usual diverse IETF participant input so me moving to abstain is just one of those things and does not mean I think the ombudsteam process being established is flawed. The document has ended up with sufficient flaws though that me abstaining and getting out of the way is the better path. My last discuss text (prior to abstaining is below). START last-discuss-text I've chatted (via IM) with Pete about the -10 version and I cleared point 3, we agreed that point 2 is for Jari to go and check with the lawyers, (or to decide to not do that) and we developed a set of OLD/NEW changes for points 1, 4 and 5. My plan is to move to a yes if all of those go my way, but to an abstain if not (with the relevant remaining discuss points turned into comments). (1) section 2: calling out creating an environment that is intimidating as a form of harassment goes too far I think. It is in the nature of the IETF to be intimidating to non engineers or to less qualified engineers. Feeling intimidated because one is ignorant and where nobody is trying to do harm is something that is ok. Trying to intimidate is not ok, attempting to intimidate because someone is young, old, etc. is not ok, but that was already stated. IM with Pete suggested this OLD/NEW which'd work for me if the authors are ok with it: OLD: This document concerns itself with harassment that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's participation in IETF activities or of creating an environment within the IETF that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive in such a situation. NEW: This document concerns itself with harassment that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's participation in IETF activities or harassment which creates an environment within the IETF that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive. (2) section 2, last para: I do not want the IETF to be subject to all the laws of all countries all at once. This seems to assert that and that there is IETF consensus for that assertion. I don't believe either is true and believe this sentence should be deleted. There are some possibly relevant laws in some countries that are such that the IETF can't reasonably ask me to agree with those. Put another way: I read this as saying that we're asserting that at any given time the IETF will have consensus on the relevance of every applicable law everywhere. I do not think such an IETF consensus exists or can exist. In an IM chat with Pete, we ended up figuring expressing this point like this might help "We don’t want the ombuds to have to figure out which of all possible laws in the world are applicable, and this sentence doesn’t add anything really, since the ombuds get to decide how to handle any complaint, whether it falls under any definition or not. So let’s just strike the sentence." So this one is now for Jari to ask Lawyer: given the above interpretation, wouldn't it be better to remove the sentence since it could do harm and not match IETF consensus if included? (3) cleared (4) 5.1, 2nd last para: respect has to be earned it's not ok to just say "ombudsteam => correct" for such a new construct. I think this kind of text might be enough to be problematic if/when someone goes to court and claims these are unfair procedures. A suggested OLD/NEW: OLD: It should be enough that the Ombudsteam explains the severity of the situation, that they have considered other lesser remedies, and that they deem the recommended remedy to be appropriate. NEW As the Ombudsteam function is seen to be improving the IETF and gains the respect of participants over time, it should be enough that the Ombudsteam explains the severity of the situation, that they have considered other lesser remedies, and that they deem the recommended remedy to be appropriate. (5) 5.2: purpose "is to prevent all" - that's nonsense, there is no point in setting an impossible purpose. The purpose surely is to minimise harassment and the impact if harassment has occurred? If this BCP makes such impossible claims, and if someone does ever end up in court, I would expect that this BCP could not be defended. That seems like a bad plan to me. The following change would however fix this: OLD is to prevent all NEW is to deal with and discourage END last-discuss-text, old non-discuss comments are below here. (I didn't check -10 against these comments - I'm fine to chat more about them if the authors want but I suspect we'd all prefer to get this out the door instead.) Some of my comments on the changed text here are close to discusses, but I think if we resolve the discusses then we'll hopefully also fix what needs fixing below. - intro, 2nd last para: I'd prefer s/intended/only intended/ I do think we should ensure that the ombudsteam can't get out of control, to the extent any formalism would help there. - section 2, 3rd last para: What is the sentence starting with "One way..." supposed to mean? Are you trying to get at situations where someone demands favours of some kind (e.g. sexual?) in return for doing what they ought in any case do? I don't think it's useful to be unclear like that. - 3.5: Say if someone refuses to accept that a report has been dealt with for 5 years. Does the lead ombudsbeing continue to be part of the team for all of that time? Do they only handle the existing "case"? Is there no way to hand off and finally free our poor ombudsbeing in such a case? (There will be reporters who don't want to let go, and that could be a problem for team members.) Just extending the term isn't a good plan I believe. - 4.1: The respondent is not obliged to co-operate is a tautology and should be omitted. "May consider failure to co-operate" sounds a bit too threatening and is it really needed or useful here? - 4.1: All reports in writing? Why? I think that's a detail for the ombudsteam and they ought be allowed to decide that a word in the ear is the most effective thing to do. I of course agree that all reports of substance need to be dealt with in writing, but even in that case, I don't think you mean that the reporter has to use writing to report. - 5.1: Why does 5.1 say "Per section 5.1"? - 5.1: The two places you say that folks are not qualified are not needed (recall ctte and appointing body) and are I think counterproductive. Any such set of IETFers is actually reasonably likely to have some qualified folks and some not. (And for everyone to believe themselves qualified.) I think you want to say that (over time) we ought (grow to) respect the ombudsteam decisions which is a good goal, (over time) but one that can only be reached (over time) with good demonstrated performance and respect can't just be declared to be required. - 5.1: The AD specific bullet is odd. What if the remedy is to be applied to an IAB programme lead or liaison manager or directorate secretary? I think you could generalise, but at that point it's probably so obvious as to not need saying. Maybe delete that bullet. - 5.1, the last-resort bit: this is good but I think s/should consider/must consider/ is needed there. I can't see there being a case where the ombudsbeing wouldn't consider a lesser remedy and if they ever get to the last resort they really had better have documented (internally) that they did consider lesser remedies. - section 8: this is not only a summary, the last point was not previously made. I didn't check all the others. comments on text previously reviewed: - section 2: the term "potential harrassment" is weird, esp in "reports potential harrassment" - this would allow a reporter Bob to say that Charlie might be able to harrass Alice. That is always true. - 3.1: The 1st and 2nd sentences here contradict one another. Rewording can fix, e.g. s/shall/ought/ and s/will rapidly/ should rapidly/ - 3.2: "may consider elements of diversity" is bogus. Of course the IETF chair can do that. If we want the IETF chair to do so, we should say they ought, not that they may. Strike this or s/may/ought/ - section 4: Will normal web access logs to related web pages be kept? Maybe this'd be better on another domain? - 4.1: The ombudsteam set their own procedures but if the community are unhappy with those the only recourse is the (never used) recall for the IETF chair? That's not going to happen. I think you're missing a middle step where the IETF chair should fire the ombudsteam if the community don't accept team practices and the team don't fix those in response. - 4.1: This dives into too much detail in a number of ways. Let the team figure out those details. E.g., saying "do like nomcom" is a bit strong here, I'd allow the team to decide that. They could e.g. prefer to use some kind of whistleblower technology and no email at all. (The statement isn't entirely broken as-is, but is also not needed.) One could maybe say that the team need to be at least as careful as nomcom should be. - 4.1: The shall in "shall not be subject to retaliation" is wishful thinking. Nobody can control that. I think you want to say that good-faith reports ought not by themselves be considered a negative and that this is something on which the IETF has consensus.
Adrian Farrel Former IESG member
(was Abstain) Recuse
Recuse (for -05) Unknown
Pete Resnick Former IESG member
Recuse (for -05) Unknown