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Informing the community on third-party correspondence regarding the W3C

8 Feb 2023

In accordance with our policy of transparency, this blog post aims to keep the community informed about recent correspondence we have received and replied to.

In late January 2023 the IETF received a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of the Movement for an Open Web setting out their concerns with the W3C in the area of competition law.  We responded with a query as to why they had sent it to us and they followed up with a second letter.

This second letter set out why they believe this is relevant to the IETF, made recommendations for changes within the IETF to address perceived antitrust issues and requested a discussion with us on this matter.  The IETF Chair, IAB Chair, LLC chair and IETF Executive Director, discussed this issue with counsel and concluded that 

  1. Unfortunately, this second letter was based on a significant misunderstanding of the role and nature of the IETF;
  2. Our reply should aim to educate about the nature of the IETF, with a particular focus on the multiple ways in which our policies aim to avoid capture by one or more industry players;
  3. This should be treated as an administrative matter with the response coming from the IETF Executive Director;
  4. It would be inappropriate to enter into any discussions about the W3C. 

This approach was then checked with the IESG and IAB and our reply sent.

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