Skip to main content

IETF LLC Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct policy describes the ethical and legal responsibilities of all Covered Individuals.

Who is a Covered Individual? The IETF Administration LLC (“IETF LLC”) Board Directors, employees and contractors, as well as any volunteers and/or agents who are formally authorized to act on behalf of IETF LLC in some capacity and are considered by the LLC to be acting in that capacity (collectively, “Covered Individuals”).

Who is not a Covered Individual? IETF participants, IRTF participants, IESG members, the IRTF Chair, IAB members, IAB program members, working group chairs, research group chairs, directorate participants, the Independent Submissions Editor, the Independent Submissions Editorial Board, NOC volunteers, Tools team volunteers, the Ombudsteam, the Sergeants-at-arms, trustees of the IETF Trust, and any individual not involved in the IETF, except if such individuals are formally authorized as Covered Individuals (such as an IETF LLC Board Director).

The IETF LLC functions are performed and/or overseen by the Covered Individuals described above. All Covered Individuals must adhere to the various policies adopted by the IETF LLC from time to time, including processes and procedures set out in this Code of Conduct.

1. Personal and Professional Integrity

IETF LLC values respect, fairness and integrity. All Covered Individuals must act, and be perceived to act, with honesty, integrity and openness whenever they represent IETF LLC, and they must maintain high ethical standards.

2. Legal Compliance

Covered Individuals must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and standards of government agencies and authorities. Some of the specific types of applicable laws are discussed below. If a law exists that is either contradictory to or stricter than this policy in an applicable jurisdiction, the Covered Individual must (a) comply with the law, and (b) bring the matter to the attention of IETF LLC’s legal counsel.

3. Specific Policies

Covered Individuals are subject to certain standalone specific policies, as adopted by IETF LLC from time to time. These include all the policies set forth on the IETF LLC policies and procedures page.

4. Approval Authorities

The following table describes the relevant Approval Authorities for the various types of individuals covered by this policy:

Individual Type IETF LLC Approval Authority
Board Directors (except for Board Chair) Board Chair
Board Chair Treasurer
Executive Director Treasurer
All Other Covered Individuals Executive Director

5. Nondiscrimination

IETF LLC recognizes the right of all persons—including Board Directors, employees, contractors and volunteers—to equal opportunity. No Covered Individual shall discriminate against or treat any person with whom they deal unequally because of race, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry or any other status protected by applicable laws.

IETF LLC follows a fair and equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry or any other status protected by applicable laws. This policy applies to hiring, internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement and terminations.

6. Anti-Harassment

Harassment by Covered Individuals will not be tolerated in any form, including but not limited to harassment based on race, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry or any other status protected by applicable laws. Covered Individuals must also promptly report any instances of harassment that they witness involving other Covered Individuals, either to their Approval Authority listed above or via the tool(s) identified in the Whistleblower Policy.

If Covered Individuals are also IETF participants, then relevant IETF-specific anti-harassment policies (and other policies pertaining to conduct) will apply in cases when they are acting solely as an IETF participant. Otherwise this policy will apply.

Harassment is unwelcome hostile or intimidating behavior and includes:

  • Speech or behavior that intimidates or demeans based on attributes such as race, gender, religion, age, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, body size, gender identity and expression, or any other status protected by laws.

  • Any sexually aggressive speech or behavior, including intimidation, stalking, displaying sexual imagery or materials.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or advances or physical contact.

  • Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.

  • Abusive, offensive, or degrading language or imagery.

  • Bullying, including any language, behavior or imagery that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence, emotional, or physical harm against an individual or a group of people.

  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events.

  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.

Covered Individuals should also consider local societal customs of the hosting country when deciding what conduct is appropriate for a business environment.

The IETF LLC will promptly investigate all reports of harassment (see separate Whistleblower Policy).

7. Confidentiality and Proprietary Information

Covered Individuals may access or create certain information (in written or electronic form, or communicated orally) that has been created, developed or disclosed with expectations of confidential treatment. Examples of such confidential information include certain IETF LLC Board discussions, strategy plans, financial data, contracts, personnel data and salary information.

Covered Individuals, both during and after their affiliation with the IETF LLC, are expected to protect all IETF LLC confidential and proprietary information, to keep it in strictest confidence, only use it for the fulfillment of their obligations related to IETF LLC, and not disclose it to unauthorized third parties.

8. Social Media

Covered Individuals’ use of social media can pose risks to IETF LLC’s reputation and mission, and can even jeopardize IETF LLC’s compliance with business rules and laws. To minimize these business and legal risks, IETF LLC expects Covered Individuals to adhere to the following guidelines and rules regarding social media use.

If Covered Individuals are required to use social media as part of their duties on behalf of IETF LLC, they must seek prior approval for such communications from the appropriate Approval Authority listed above. The Approval Authority may require the Covered Individuals to undergo additional training before authorizing such activities and may also impose certain requirements and restrictions with regard to such activities.

Covered Individuals are responsible for what they personally communicate in social media and should remember that what they write might be made public, even if they initially intend for the communication to be private. Covered Individuals shall make clear in their personal social media activity that they are speaking on their own behalf. They will write in the first person and use their personal addresses and account names when communicating via social media. If a Covered Individual discloses their affiliation with the IETF LLC, they will also include a disclaimer that their views do not represent those of IETF LLC.

Covered Individuals will use good judgment about what they post and remember that anything they say can reflect on IETF LLC, even with the inclusion of a disclaimer.

Covered Individuals must strive to be accurate in their communications about IETF LLC and remember that their statements have the potential to result in liability for themselves or IETF LLC. IETF LLC encourages professionalism, respect and honesty in social media and all other communications. Covered Individuals should be mindful that the IETF LLC’s policies and procedures, and this Code, apply to their social media activity as well, including those policies and standards related to confidentiality, non-discrimination and harassment.

If a Covered Individual is contacted for comment about IETF LLC for publication, including in any social media or news outlet, they should direct the inquiry to the Executive Director and not respond without written approval.

9. Gifts

IETF LLC’s integrity, accountability and reputation can be compromised if a Covered Individual accepts (or receives) personal gifts from certain types of outside parties as a result of their role in the IETF LLC. The types of parties include vendors, potential vendors, or any other outside individual or organization relating to IETF LLC business (collectively, “business partners”).

A “gift” refers to the transfer of any item of value including goods and services without compensation, including travel (e.g. flights and hotel rooms). The exchange of gifts of ‘nominal value’ (less than 50.00 USD) is acceptable as long as it is in accordance with generally accepted, local customs, traditions and laws, the gifts are not offered or accepted with the purpose of influencing a business decision or official action, the gift will not negatively affect the reputation of IETF LLC, and complies with the Anti-Bribery and Corruption policy described below and with other applicable laws.

Covered Individuals should always obtain approval from the appropriate Approving Authority prior to accepting any gifts above the nominal value above (except as explicitly stated below), or if they otherwise have questions about the appropriateness of a gift. Covered Individuals should clearly account for and document any non-nominal gifts received with pre-approval, as well as any and all business entertainment expenses in accordance with the Travel & Expense Reimbursement Policy.

Covered Individuals should be aware that:

  • Gifts of cash, cash vouchers, certificates with a set negotiable value or other cash equivalents are never acceptable.

  • Frequent gifts (more than one a year) from the same party, including those below the 50.00 USD threshold, may be considered improper and a potential conflict of interest.

  • They may not solicit any gift, regardless of value, from a business partner for any non-charitable purpose, unless the Covered Individual has obtained the appropriate pre-approvals.

  • They may not use personal funds to pay for a gift for a business partner in connection with IETF LLC activities.

The following are examples of allowable gifts:

  • Giving and receiving gifts based on existing personal friendships, as long as they do not obligate, or appear to obligate, either party with regards to any IETF LLC activity.

  • Honorarium gifts (e.g. commemorative plaque), that are not cash, given as symbols of appreciation for services provided to the IETF, including from other Covered Individuals, as long as they do not obligate, or appear to obligate, either party with regards to any IETF LLC activity.

  • Gifts of nominal value given during the holiday season or other special occasions, which represent expressions of friendship.

Reasonable business meals, such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the value of which may exceed the nominal threshold described above without requiring specific approval, provided the nature of the business meal is reasonable and complies with the Travel & Expense Reimbursement Policy. Business meals in any form that would likely result in a feeling or expectation of personal obligation should not be extended or accepted. A heightened level of scrutiny should be utilized to ensure there is no appearance of impropriety; when in doubt the Approving Authority should be consulted Awards may be accepted for meritorious contributions or service if they are of nominal value. Gifts should never be used to obligate, or appear to obligate, the recipient.

10. Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Policy & Procedures

The IETF LLC is committed to conducting its business ethically in every country in which it does business, as well as complying with all applicable U.S., state, and local laws. This includes compliance with anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act of 2010.

Corruption is any abuse of power for private gain; while bribery is an act of giving money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Although the nature and scope of corruption and bribery may differ from country to country, the IETF LLC has a strict zero-tolerance policy toward bribery and corruption and strictly prohibits any improper payments in any type of business dealings anywhere in the world.

Covered Individuals may not offer, promise or give a bribe to anyone, and may not request or agree to accept or take a bribe from anyone.

The purpose of a bribe is often to obtain, retain or “facilitate” business, but might also be to influence an act or decision of the person receiving the bribe, induce such person to do or omit any action in violation of his lawful duty, or to induce such person to use his influence to affect an official act or decision. A bribe could involve direct or indirect payment, offer, authorization or promise to pay money or anything of value, offer or receipt of a kickback, loan, fee, commission, reward or other advantage or giving of contributions or donations designed or stipulated to influence actions in the giver’s favor. These could be directed to government officials or business partners, but can also be directed to another person or entity, such as a charity or family member of the recipient, if the intent is still to influence the business or official outcome.

A facilitation payment is a type of bribe. A common example of a facilitation payment is where a government official is given money or goods to perform (or speed up performance of) an existing duty. Facilitation payments are illegal under laws of many other countries, regardless of their size or frequency and are in all cases strictly against IETF LLC policy. No Covered Individual may willingly or knowingly offer to make, or actually make a facilitation payment, and all Covered Individuals should always obtain written pre-approval from the IETF LLC Executive Director ("Executive Director") before providing or promising any government official anything of value.

As third party individuals or organizations acting on behalf of or representing IETF LLC can expose the organization to liability under ABC laws, Covered Individuals must undertake proper due diligence prior to authorizing such conduct and/or contracting with such third parties. It is also important to ensure that appropriate training and education be provided to any individuals that may act on behalf of IETF LLC and risk such exposure. If applicable, certain provisions should be included in relevant contracts regarding compliance with ABC laws, particularly in the case where the third party will be dealing with government officials.

The IETF LLC is dedicated to providing compliance guidance for all Covered Individuals, with training and educational materials provided to the Covered Individuals on this topic. Covered Individuals are encouraged to ask the Executive Director if they have any questions or uncertainty about the appropriateness of any behavior. Covered Individuals are ultimately responsible for understanding what ABC laws are applicable due to their individual circumstances, such as citizenship or residence.

Covered Individuals should be wary of any suspicious information about or behavior from third parties such as allegations of improper business practices, a reputation for bribes, requests for suspicious payments, disproportionate compensation requests, etc.

Covered Individuals should contact the Executive Director immediately, or a Board Director if the Executive Director is conflicted, if they believe that an improper payment or other thing of value has been or will be offered, directly or indirectly, by IETF LLC or an employee or third party working on its behalf, or if anyone offers them an improper payment or other thing of value.

11. International Trade Controls

Covered Individuals need to understand and comply with international trade control (“ITC”) laws and regulations, such as those involving exports and sanctions, both in the United States and in other locations where the IETF LLC conducts business. IETF LLC will offer training and education to Covered Individuals to encourage and assist in the compliance with ITC laws. All Covered Individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Executive Director, or a Board Director if the Executive Director is conflicted, with any questions regarding ITC compliance.


The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United​ States. OFAC maintains lists of those persons, entities, and jurisdictions that are subject to U.S. sanctions restrictions. Prior to entering into any contract or transaction, Covered Individuals must first verify that the related IETF LLC activity and/or business partner is not subject to sanctions that would prohibit the proposed contract or transaction absent an explicit license or exception, by conducting appropriate pre-screening against the publicly accessible lists made available by OFAC. Covered Individuals should contact the Executive Director if they receive any requests, invitations or other correspondence from parties that they believe are subject to US sanctions restrictions.

Export Controls

The US Department of Commerce has adopted regulations governing the export, re-export, and transshipment of most commercial goods and technologies that originate in the United States. These regulations, known as the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), are implemented by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”). BIS has authority to regulate the export and re-exports of “dual-use” items (items that have commercial applications, but can also be used or converted to use for military, weapons of mass destruction, or terrorist purposes) under EAR. BIS maintains a Commerce Control List (CCL) that includes items subject to BIS’s export license authority. “Dual use” items under the EAR are not always readily apparent, and can include such items as electronics, computers, and telecommunications and information security equipment and software, or even technical presentations, trainings, and access to certain databases.

Covered Individuals should consult with the Executive Director and legal counsel, as applicable, prior to authorizing the export of items that may be under BIS’ authority, to identify applicable regulations and the need, if any, to obtain a license from BIS prior to such export.

Covered Individuals will conduct rigorous due diligence on any third party that might handle customs matters or other cross-border shipments in connection with IETF LLC activities. All contracts will such third parties will include obligations to comply with all applicable ITC laws.

Antiboycott Laws

The US adopted certain antiboycott laws to encourage, and in specified cases, require US companies to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts unsanctioned by the United States (such as the Arab League boycott of Israel). Covered Individuals shall not agree to include words such as “Boycott”, “blacklist” or similar terms in any IETF LLC related documents such as contracts, invoices, purchase orders, etc. and shall report to the Executive Director any requests to comply with a foreign boycott.

Policy version: 1
Last updated: 31-October-2019

you might be interested in

IETF LLC Whistleblower Hotline