The Internet is for End Users
RFC 8890

Document Type RFC - Informational (August 2020; No errata)
Author Mark Nottingham 
Last updated 2020-08-27
Replaces draft-nottingham-for-the-users
Stream IAB
Formats plain text html xml pdf htmlized bibtex
Stream IAB state Published RFC
Consensus Boilerplate Yes
RFC Editor Note (None)

Internet Architecture Board (IAB)                          M. Nottingham
Request for Comments: 8890                                   August 2020
Category: Informational                                                 
ISSN: 2070-1721

                     The Internet is for End Users


   This document explains why the IAB believes that, when there is a
   conflict between the interests of end users of the Internet and other
   parties, IETF decisions should favor end users.  It also explores how
   the IETF can more effectively achieve this.

Status of This Memo

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

   This document is a product of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
   and represents information that the IAB has deemed valuable to
   provide for permanent record.  It represents the consensus of the
   Internet Architecture Board (IAB).  Documents approved for
   publication by the IAB 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

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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
   ( 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.  Who Are "End Users"?
   3.  Why the IETF Should Prioritize End Users
   4.  How the IETF Can Prioritize End Users
     4.1.  Engaging the Internet Community
     4.2.  Creating User-Focused Systems
     4.3.  Identifying Negative End-User Impact
     4.4.  Handling Conflicting End-User Needs
     4.5.  Deprioritizing Internal Needs
   5.  IANA Considerations
   6.  Security Considerations
   7.  Informative References
   IAB Members at the Time of Approval
   Author's Address

1.  Introduction

   Many who participate in the IETF are most comfortable making what we
   believe to be purely technical decisions; our process favors
   technical merit through our well-known mantra of "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
   while discouraging others.  While we believe we are making only
   technical decisions, in reality, we are defining (in some degree)
   what is possible on the Internet itself.

   This impact has become significant.  As the Internet increasingly
   mediates essential functions in societies, it has unavoidably become
   profoundly political; it has helped people overthrow governments,
   revolutionize social orders, swing elections, control populations,
   collect data about individuals, and reveal secrets.  It has created
   wealth for some individuals and companies while destroying that of

   All of this raises the question: For whom do we go through the pain
   of gathering rough consensus and writing running code?

   After all, there are a variety of parties that standards can benefit,
   such as (but not limited to) end users, network operators, schools,
   equipment vendors, specification authors, specification implementers,
   content owners, governments, nongovernmental organizations, social
   movements, employers, and parents.

   Successful specifications will provide some benefit to all the
   relevant parties because standards do not represent a zero-sum game.
   However, there are sometimes situations where there is a conflict
   between the needs of two (or more) parties.

   In these situations, when one of those parties is an "end user" of
   the Internet -- for example, a person using a web browser, mail
   client, or another agent that connects to the Internet -- the
   Internet Architecture Board argues that the IETF should favor their
   interests over those of other parties.

   Section 2 explains what is meant by "end users", Section 3 outlines
   why IETF work should prioritize them, and Section 4 describes how we
   can do that.

2.  Who Are "End Users"?

   In this document, "end users" means human users whose activities IETF
   standards support, sometimes indirectly.  Thus, the end user of a
   protocol to manage routers is not a router administrator; it is the
   people using the network that the router operates within.

   End users are not necessarily a homogenous group; they might have
   different views of how the Internet should work and might occupy
   several roles, such as a seller, buyer, publisher, reader, service
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