On Sun, Mar 23, 2008 at 08:45:19AM -0700, Christian Huitema wrote:
Does the IETF have a policy regarding misrepresented identities?
In the particular incident, it is assumed that the person using the
name of a famous French aviation pioneer is in fact someone else. On
the one hand, using pseudonyms is a form of free speech. But on the
other hand, in a standard setting body, hiding identities is not
necessarily something we want to encourage. What are the
implications for our standard process? What about copyrights and
The use of pseudonums is very much a form of free speach. To quote
from from the U.S. Supreme Court,
"`Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have
played an important role in the progress of mankind.’ Talley
v. California (1960). Great works of literature have frequently
been produced by authors writing under assumed names. Despite
readers’ curiosity and the public’s interest in identifying the
creator of a work of art, an author generally is free to decide
whether or not to disclose her true identity. The decision in
favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or
official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely
by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible.
Whatever the motivation may be, at least in the field of literary
endeavor, the interest in having anonymous works enter the
marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest
in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an
author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions
concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication,
is an aspect of freedom of speech protected by the First
Amendment." --- McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 1995.
However, free speech rights are those which a government is not
allowed to abograte via the unique coercive means made available to it
(i.e., prison, fines, etc.). Free speech does not imply that anyone
wishing to avail themselves of their "free speech rights" gets to use
anyone's printing press or radio station or television station or IETF
wg mailing list to broadcast their "free speech" to the those that
have no interest in listening to it. Nor does it give people the
right to use a bullhorn to loudly blare their opinions in a
residential neighborhood at 3am in the morning.
So free speech rights is a red herring, in terms of whether or not any
decision made by the IETF would violate LB's fundamental human rights
(assming he really is in the EU), since the IETF is not a state actor,
and he is perfectly free to spout his views about the multilingual
internet in plenty of other fora.
In terms of whether or not there is value added by allowing anonymous
contributions in IETF wg mailing lists, issues arround copyright and
the IETF's patent disclosure rules seem to mitigate any posible value
in a standards context, and while I wouldn't suggest making a big deal of
requiring identity verification for every single working group
participant, if there is reasonable cause for a working group chair to
believe that someone is using a pseudonym to evade an RFC 3683 PR
action, that the IETF reasonable proof of a real-life identity.
Certainly some of the claims made by "LB" of this being done with the
support of "our two direct commercial competitors in his WG" can not
be evaluated while "LB" tries to hide behind a shield of anonymity.
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