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Network Working Group                                      M. Nottingham
Internet-Draft                                           October 8, 2015
Intended status: Best Current Practice
Expires: April 10, 2016

                     The Internet is for End Users


   Internet standards serve and are used by a variety of communities.
   This document contains guidelines for explicitly identifying them,
   serving them, and determining how to resolve conflicts between their
   interests, when necessary.

   It also mandates end users as the highest priority concern for
   Internet standards.

Note to Readers

   The issues list for this draft can be found at
   https://github.com/mnot/I-D/labels/for-the-users .

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 10, 2016.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2015 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

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   (http://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.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  Notational Conventions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  The Internet is for End Users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.  Identifying Relevant Parties  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.1.  Handling Change in Relevant Parties . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.2.  Avoiding Unnecessary Parties  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   5.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   6.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     6.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     6.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8

1.  Introduction

   As the Internet has become prevalent in many societies, it has also
   unavoidably become a profoundly political thing; it has helped
   overthrow governments, revolutionize social orders, control
   populations and reveal people's secrets.  It has created wealth for
   some individuals and companies, while destroying others'.

   The IETF, while focused on technical matters, is not neutral about
   the purpose of its work [RFC3935]:

      The IETF community wants the Internet to succeed because we
      believe that the existence of the Internet, and its influence on
      economics, communication, and education, will help us to build a
      better human society.

   However, the IETF is most comfortable making purely technical
   decisions; our process is defined to favor technical merit, through
   our well-known bias towards "rough consensus and running code".

   Nevertheless, the running code that results from our process (when
   things work well) inevitably has an impact beyond technical
   considerations, because the underlying decisions afford some uses,

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   while discouraging others.  Or, in the words of Lawrence Lessig

      Ours is the age of cyberspace.  It, too, has a regulator... This
      regulator is code -- the software and hardware that make
      cyberspace as it is.  This code, or architecture, sets the terms
      on which life in cyberspace is experienced.  It determines how
      easy it is to protect privacy, or how easy it is to censor speech.
      It determines whether access to information is general or whether
      information is zoned.  It affects who sees what, or what is
      monitored.  In a host of ways that one cannot begin to see unless
      one begins to understand the nature of this code, the code of
      cyberspace regulates.

   All of this raises the question: Who do we go through the pain of
   rough consensus and write the running code for?

   There are a variety of identifiable parties in the larger Internet
   community that standards can provide benefit to, such as (but not
   limited to) end users, network operators, schools, equipment vendors,
   specification authors, specification implementers, content owners,
   governments, non-governmental organisations, social movements,
   employers, and parents.

   Good specifications will provide benefit to all of the relevant
   parties, because standards do not represent a zero-sum game.
   However, on occasion we do need to balance the benefits of a decision
   between two (or more) parties.

   Likewise, sometimes efforts are brought to the IETF that represent
   the technical needs of some parties, but does not take the needs of
   others into account.  On its own, such a specification meets a
   technical need for a subset of the Internet community, but at the
   expense of other parts.  When presented with such a proposal, we need
   to decide how to handle it.

   Currently, such decisions occur in an ad hoc fashion, often without
   explicitly being discussed.  This approach works reasonably well in
   many cases; even if a party is not directly represented in the
   process, there are often advocates for their interests, and
   ultimately protocols that disadvantage a particular party tend to be
   either rejected by it or eventually replaced.

   However, we do sometimes expend a considerable amount of energy
   mitigating potential harm to under-represented members of the
   Internet community, and often such harm is not so onerous or obvious
   as to dissuade them from using something (e.g., [RFC6265]).

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   In other words - because our decisions have ethical implications, we
   will consider their impact and determine whether it is within our
   core values, and do so in a well-defined open fashion.

   To facilitate that, this document outlines a set of guidelines for
   identifying the relevant parties to an Internet standard, along with
   their relative priorities.  It also gives end user the highest
   priority in such considerations.

1.1.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2.  The Internet is for End Users

   Internet standards MUST give the highest priority to end users.

   While networks need to be managed, employers and equipment vendors
   need to meet business goals, etc., our mission is to "build a better
   human society" [RFC3935] and - on the Internet - society is composed
   of what we call "end users."

   Furthermore, the success of the Internet to date is arguably due
   largely to its bias towards end user concerns; without a firm
   preference for their benefit, trust in the Internet will erode, and
   its value - for everyone - will be greatly diminished.

   This does not mean that end users have ultimate priority; there may
   be cases where genuine technical need of another party requires that
   end user requirements compromise.  However, such tradeoffs need to be
   carefully examined, and avoided when there are alternate means of
   achieving the desired goals.  If they cannot be, these choices and
   reasoning SHOULD be carefully documented.

   For example, IPv6 [RFC2460] identifies each client with a unique
   address - even though this provides a way to track end user activity
   and helps identify them - because it is technically necessary to
   provide networking (and despite this, there are mechanisms like
   [RFC4941] to mitigate this effect, for those users who desire it).

   This also does not mean that the IETF community has any specific
   insight into what is "good for end users"; as before, we will need to
   interact with the greater Internet community and apply our process to
   help us make decisions, deploy our protocols, and ultimately
   determine their success or failure.

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3.  Identifying Relevant Parties

   The relevant parties to an Internet standard MUST be documented,
   along with their interrelationships.

   For example, HTML does so using the "priority of constituencies" in
   the HTML Design Principles [PRIORITY]:

      In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementors
      over specifiers over theoretical purity.  In other words costs or
      difficulties to the user should be given more weight than costs to
      authors; which in turn should be given more weight than costs to
      implementors; which should be given more weight than costs to
      authors of the spec itself, which should be given more weight than
      those proposing changes for theoretical reasons alone.  Of course,
      it is preferred to make things better for multiple parties at

   Note how the relative priority is explicit; this is intentional and
   encouraged.  However, it need not be a strict ranking in all cases;
   in some areas, it can be more useful to give equal weight to parties,
   so as to encourage the tussle [TUSSLE].

   Likewise, the responsibilities of, or expectations upon, different
   parties to a standard can vary greatly.  For example, end users of
   Web browsers cannot be reasonably expected to make informed decisions
   about security, and therefore design decisions there are biased
   towards default security.  When applicable, the expectations upon a
   party SHOULD be documented.

   Extensions to existing standards MUST document how they interact with
   the extended standard's relevant parties.  If this is not yet
   documented, the extension MAY estimate its impact, in coordination
   with that standard's community and the IESG.

   The burden of this documentation need not be high; if HTML can do it
   in a paragraph, so can most other standards.  While it might be
   appropriate in a separate document (e.g., a requirements or use cases
   draft) or the specification itself, documenting relevant parties in
   the WG charter has considerable benefits, since it clarifies their
   relationships up-front.

   Inevitably, documenting and interpreting these roles will become
   controversial; this is to be expected, and is still preferable to
   avoiding the discussion.  The point is to make it explicit, so that
   the affected parties can be made aware of the discussion, and judge
   the outcome.

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3.1.  Handling Change in Relevant Parties

   Changes in the use, deployment patterns, legal context, or other
   factors of a standard can bring pressure to re-balance the priorities
   of existing parties, or insert new ones (usually, when a standard is
   either extended or evolved).

   Such changes MUST NOT diminish the priority of existing relevant
   parties without informed consent.  Note that this may preclude the
   change completely, as it is often impossible to gain the informed
   consent of a large or diffuse group (e.g., end users).

   For example, there has been increasing pressure to change HTTP
   [RFC7230] to make it more amenable to optimization, filtering, and
   interposition of other value-added services, especially in the face
   of wider use of encryption (through HTTPS URIs).  However, since
   HTTPS is already defined as a two-party protocol with end-to-end
   encryption, inserting a third party in any fashion would violate the
   expectations of two existing parties; end users and content
   publishers.  Therefore, the HTTP Working Group has refused to
   consider such changes.

3.2.  Avoiding Unnecessary Parties

   In protocol design, intermediation is often thought of as "those
   parties on the direct path between two people attempting to
   communicate"; e.g., middleboxes, proxies and so on.

   When discussing the parties relevant to an Internet standard, this
   definition can be expanded to include those parties that have the
   ability to prevent or control communication between two parties.
   This naturally includes middleboxes, but can also include third
   parties not directly on-path.

   For example, HTTP has on-path intermediaries (proxies, gateways,
   etc.), but also off-path intermediaries, in the form of the DNS
   registrar, the DNS server, and also the Certificate Authority if TLS
   is in use.  Certificate Transparency [RFC6962] potentially adds yet
   another intermediary to this protocol suite.

   While there might be a good technical reason to interpose such an
   intermediary, it also introduces a new party, and thus needs to be
   done with due consideration of the impact on other parties.

   Therefore, unnecessary parties SHOULD be avoided when possible in
   Internet standards.

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4.  IANA Considerations

   This document does not require action by IANA.

5.  Security Considerations

   This document does not have direct security impact; however, applying
   its guidelines (or failing to) might affect security positively or

6.  References

6.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/
              RFC2119, March 1997,

6.2.  Informative References

   [CODELAW]  Lessig, L., "Code Is Law: On Liberty in Cyberspace", 2000,

              van Kesteren, A. and M. Stachowiak, "HTML Design
              Principles", November 2007, <http://www.w3.org/TR/

   [RFC2460]  Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6
              (IPv6) Specification", RFC 2460, DOI 10.17487/RFC2460,
              December 1998, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2460>.

   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF", BCP
              95, RFC 3935, DOI 10.17487/RFC3935, October 2004,

   [RFC4941]  Narten, T., Draves, R., and S. Krishnan, "Privacy
              Extensions for Stateless Address Autoconfiguration in
              IPv6", RFC 4941, DOI 10.17487/RFC4941, September 2007,

   [RFC6265]  Barth, A., "HTTP State Management Mechanism", RFC 6265,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6265, April 2011,

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   [RFC6962]  Laurie, B., Langley, A., and E. Kasper, "Certificate
              Transparency", RFC 6962, DOI 10.17487/RFC6962, June 2013,

   [RFC7230]  Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., "Hypertext Transfer
              Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Message Syntax and Routing", RFC
              7230, DOI 10.17487/RFC7230, June 2014,

   [TUSSLE]   Clark, D., Sollins, K., Wroclawski, J., and R. Braden,
              "Tussle in Cyberspace: Defining Tomorrow's Internet",

Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Jacob Appelbaum for making the suggestion that led to this

   Thanks also to the WHATWG for blazing the trail.

   Thanks to Edward Snowden for his comments regarding the priority of
   end users at IETF93.

   Thanks to Harald Alvestrand for his substantial feedback and Joe
   Hildebrand, Russ Housley, Niels ten Oever, and Martin Thomson for
   their suggestions.

Author's Address

   Mark Nottingham

   Email: mnot@mnot.net
   URI:   http://www.mnot.net/

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