Establishing the Protocol Police
RFC 8962

Document Type RFC - Informational (April 2021; Errata)
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Last updated 2021-04-05
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Independent Submission                                         G. Grover
Request for Comments: 8962                                              
Category: Informational                                     N. ten Oever
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                         
                                                                 C. Cath
                                                                        
                                                                S. Sahib
                                                            1 April 2021

                    Establishing the Protocol Police

Abstract

   One mantra of the IETF is, "We are not the Protocol Police."
   However, to ensure that protocols are implemented and deployed in
   full compliance with the IETF's standards, it is important to set up
   a body that is responsible for assessing and enforcing correct
   protocol behavior.

   This document formally establishes the Protocol Police.  It defines
   the body and sets out what aspects of IETF protocols they will
   police.  This document acts as a point of reference for networking
   engineers, law enforcement officials, government representatives, and
   others.  It also provides advice on how to report issues to the
   Protocol Police.

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This is a contribution to the RFC Series, independently of any other
   RFC stream.  The RFC Editor has chosen to publish this document at
   its discretion and makes no statement about its value for
   implementation or deployment.  Documents approved for publication by
   the RFC Editor are not candidates for any level of Internet Standard;
   see Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
   https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8962.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 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
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) 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.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction
   2.  Definitions
   3.  Composition of the Protocol Police
     3.1.  Recognizing the Protocol Police
     3.2.  Recruitment
   4.  Support for the Protocol Police
   5.  Punishable Offenses
     5.1.  Protocol-Layer Violations
     5.2.  Deliberate Non-Interoperability
     5.3.  Disobeying RFCs
   6.  Reporting Offenses
   7.  Punishment
     7.1.  Traffic Imprisonment
   8.  Morality Considerations
     8.1.  Oversight
   9.  IANA Considerations
   10. Security Considerations
   11. Privacy Considerations
   12. Human Rights Considerations
   13. Conclusion
   14. Informative References
   Acknowledgments
   Authors' Addresses

1.  Introduction

   IETF participants are often confronted with circumstances where
   developers or deployers choose to not obey the sacrosanct words of an
   RFC.  This can lead to outcomes that are widely agreed to be
   unexpected, unwarranted, or undesirable.

   Some are of the opinion that IETF participants should come to a
   consensus and declare what protocol behavior is unacceptable, and
   that the maintainers and developers of non-compliant protocols should
   be chastised.  Others (especially working group chairs) non-
   gracefully fall back on the undocumented mantra, "We [or the IETF]
   are not the Protocol Police."  Understandably, this has led to
   confusion about who should make judgments about proper interpretation
   of protocol specifications.

   This document formally establishes the Protocol Police, hitherto
   undocumented at the IETF.  It defines the body and sets out what
   aspects of IETF protocols they will police.  This document acts as a
   point of reference for networking engineers, law enforcement
   officials, government representatives, and others.  It also provides
   advice on how to report issues to the Protocol Police.

   The Protocol Police, as defined in this document, are responsible for
   enforcing all IETF standards and best practices.

2.  Definitions

   For possibly the first time in IETF history, words like "SHALL" and
   "MAY" are used in this document in their real and enforceable sense.

3.  Composition of the Protocol Police

   The Protocol Police shall be selected by the IETF Nominating
   Committee (NomCom) as laid out in [RFC3797] in a manner similar to
   that used to select the IAB and IESG [RFC8713].

   However, the members of the Protocol Police shall not be publicly
   named.  This will enable them to operate more effectively and without
   interference or unwarranted pressure from members of the community.
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