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Network Working Group                          Internet Activities Board
Request for Comments: 1087                                  January 1989


                        Ethics and the Internet

Status of this Memo

   This memo is a statement of policy by the Internet Activities Board
   (IAB) concerning the proper use of the resources of the Internet.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Introduction

   At great human and economic cost, resources drawn from the U.S.
   Government, industry and the academic community have been assembled
   into a collection of interconnected networks called the Internet.
   Begun as a vehicle for experimental network research in the mid-
   1970's, the Internet has become an important national infrastructure
   supporting an increasingly widespread, multi-disciplinary community
   of researchers ranging, inter alia, from computer scientists and
   electrical engineers to mathematicians, physicists, medical
   researchers, chemists, astronomers and space scientists.

   As is true of other common infrastructures (e.g., roads, water
   reservoirs and delivery systems, and the power generation and
   distribution network), there is widespread dependence on the Internet
   by its users for the support of day-to-day research activities.

   The reliable operation of the Internet and the responsible use of its
   resources is of common interest and concern for its users, operators
   and sponsors.  Recent events involving the hosts on the Internet and
   in similar network infrastructures underscore the need to reiterate
   the professional responsibility every Internet user bears to
   colleagues and to the sponsors of the system.  Many of the Internet
   resources are provided by the U.S. Government.  Abuse of the system
   thus becomes a Federal matter above and beyond simple professional
   ethics.

IAB Statement of Policy

   The Internet is a national facility whose utility is largely a
   consequence of its wide availability and accessibility.
   Irresponsible use of this critical resource poses an enormous threat
   to its continued availability to the technical community.

   The U.S. Government sponsors of this system have a fiduciary
   responsibility to the public to allocate government resources wisely



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RFC 1087                Ethics and the Internet             January 1989


   and effectively.  Justification for the support of this system
   suffers when highly disruptive abuses occur.  Access to and use of
   the Internet is a privilege and should be treated as such by all
   users of this system.

   The IAB strongly endorses the view of the Division Advisory Panel of
   the National Science Foundation Division of Network, Communications
   Research and Infrastructure which, in paraphrase, characterized as
   unethical and unacceptable any activity which purposely:

      (a) seeks to gain unauthorized access to the resources of the
          Internet,

      (b) disrupts the intended use of the Internet,

      (c) wastes resources (people, capacity, computer) through such
          actions,

      (d) destroys the integrity of computer-based information,

   and/or

      (e) compromises the privacy of users.

   The Internet exists in the general research milieu.  Portions of it
   continue to be used to support research and experimentation on
   networking.  Because experimentation on the Internet has the
   potential to affect all of its components and users, researchers have
   the responsibility to exercise great caution in the conduct of their
   work.  Negligence in the conduct of Internet-wide experiments is both
   irresponsible and unacceptable.

   The IAB plans to take whatever actions it can, in concert with
   Federal agencies and other interested parties, to identify and to set
   up technical and procedural mechanisms to make the Internet more
   resistant to disruption.  Such security, however, may be extremely
   expensive and may be counterproductive if it inhibits the free flow
   of information which makes the Internet so valuable.  In the final
   analysis, the health and well-being of the Internet is the
   responsibility of its users who must, uniformly, guard against abuses
   which disrupt the system and threaten its long-term viability.










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