--On Sunday, 20 June, 2004 12:45 +0200 Hadmut Danisch
On Sat, Jun 19, 2004 at 11:40:03PM -0400, John C Klensin wrote:
First, Hadmut, and others with his concerns in other
countries, probably need to approach the local regulatory
authorities who are concerned about consumer fraud and say
"the range of things that people are selling under the name
'Internet service' includes too broad a range.
Correct in principle, but no chance to do it in reality.
If I contact the regulatory authorities, they will ask
me "What's wrong with those ISP's?"
I answer "They do... and the don't..."
They'd say: Uhm, we're familiar with the Internet in
common, but not with all those details. Most people seem
to be happy with that, and if not, why don't you change to
a provider of your taste? We don't see why there is a need
to change the status quo of ISPs.
I'd reply: Because that's not correct. This is not "Internet".
This is some approx. This causes technical problems. This is
They'd say: Who are you to tell what's correct and what's
"Internet"? Nobody has ever defined that term. If there
is no definition, then there is no "correct" or "not correct".
But if we had a precise definition and a taxonomy of the
different classes of ISPs, I could say: Look, the
IETF has given a definition. They're the guys who
control the internet and keep it running well. They
are exactly the ones to tell what's correct and
what's not. And now, some of those german providers
are violating law. Because they are actually advertising
to provide internet, what they in fact don't do.
False advertising is unlawful.
While I don't precisely agree with parts of your description in
that paragraph (e.g., the IETF really doesn't "control the
Internet") that is precisely why draft-klensin-ip-service-terms
was written. The questions, I think, are:
* Is it right, or at least "good enough" given that goal?
* What does the IESG want to do to process it, and when?
* Can we move forward with something like that, with all
of its inperfections, rather than getting bogged down in
debates about changing things we can't possibly change,
religion about various practices that exist and that
people profit by selling, and alternate realities in
which the IETF can actually dictate what people should
do to be "legal".
"Can we "make" or "force" anyone to use an particular terms?" is
explicitly not on that list. It wouldn't be a good idea, and
the answer is "no" anyway.
I don't know the answer to any of those questions. The draft was
posted just as an attempt to begin moving toward answers on all
three, rather than just having periodic discussions of how much
nicer the world would be if it were different.
And, without having any idea about the specific situation in
Germany, I would hope that, in many countries, were such a list
of terms and definitions standardized, it would be possible to
go to the regulators and say "Ok, here is a definition from a
recognized standards group with some plausible credentials for
understanding the Internet. It defines some service
distinctions and why knowledge about those distinctions is
likely to be useful to an educated consumer trying to make
choices*. I think that it would be useful if you either
required providers to supply information about their services in
those terms, or at least to establish the principle that using
the terms in misleading ways will be considered fraudulent".
We actually might make some progress that way.
* The area of "why someone should care about these
terms" is not, IMO, sufficiently handled in the
document. Text would be welcome as long as it
maintains the tone of the document, i.e., that it avoid
denouncing anyone or anything other than lying about
what is being offered.
As editor (at least temporarily) of the only draft in this area
that has been posted and that I consider realistic given
real-world realities, I want to again try to reinforce the
observation made by Ole and others. There are services (or, if
you prefer, disservices) out there that real people are paying
real money for and using happily. To tell the providers of
those services "you must be clear about what you are providing"
is reasonable and not intrinsically offensive: they have enough
of a market that they will probably presume they can sell them
even if they are described clearly. To tell them "you can't
provide that service because they imply that no one will be able
to operate a full-capability, permanent-address server out of a
one-night-stay in a hotel room" is nonsense and will be treated
that way -- they will respond that no one wants to buy such a
thing and will be, to a first-order approximation, correct.
From personal experience, if I check into a hotel and hook up to
the local Ethernet, or use a public hotspot, I'll happily use
services with characteristics that would be unthinkable for my
office connection and servers. At the same time, if I discover
that those hotel or hotspot services won't permit me to run
tunnels back to my home servers, I'm going to be _really_
unhappy. It is the disclosure that is important. And,
personally, I'd consider it huge forward progress if I can call
up a hotel I'm contemplating staying in and say "do you provide
Internet service at level xyz" and get a straight, meaningful,
and reliable answer. That requires only some standard
definitions and a certain amount of good faith. Will some
hotels (and some [dis]service providers) lie? Probably. But
that is a problem the community will have to deal with in some
other way: I've checked into hotels that claim to be four-star
facilities and that don't come anywhere close, but word gets
around, regulators get irritated, and so on. I think doing that
well --establishing sufficient criteria that one can say "you
are lying" without having the hotel or provider saying "there
are no definitions, so nothing we say is a lie"-- would be good
Not enough to create a utopia in which there are no NATs, no
filters, static addresses for the duration of a stay that I
could obtain along with my confirmation number, and no attempts
to provide/claim "broadband" service in which a 500 room hotel
feeds into a single fractional T1, but a useful start.
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