1. RFC 8962
Independent Submission                                         G. Grover
Request for Comments: 8962                                              
Category: Informational                                     N. ten Oever
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                         
                                                                 C. Cath
                                                                S. Sahib
                                                            1 April 2021

                    Establishing the Protocol Police


   One mantra of the IETF is, "We are not the Protocol Police."
   However, to ensure that protocols are implemented and deployed in
   full compliance with the IETF's standards, it is important to set up
   a body that is responsible for assessing and enforcing correct
   protocol behavior.

   This document formally establishes the Protocol Police.  It defines
   the body and sets out what aspects of IETF protocols they will
   police.  This document acts as a point of reference for networking
   engineers, law enforcement officials, government representatives, and
   others.  It also provides advice on how to report issues to the
   Protocol Police.

Status of This Memo

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

   This is a contribution to the RFC Series, independently of any other
   RFC stream.  The RFC Editor has chosen to publish this document at
   its discretion and makes no statement about its value for
   implementation or deployment.  Documents approved for publication by
   the RFC Editor 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) 2021 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
   (https://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.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction
   2.  Definitions
   3.  Composition of the Protocol Police
     3.1.  Recognizing the Protocol Police
     3.2.  Recruitment
   4.  Support for the Protocol Police
   5.  Punishable Offenses
     5.1.  Protocol-Layer Violations
     5.2.  Deliberate Non-Interoperability
     5.3.  Disobeying RFCs
   6.  Reporting Offenses
   7.  Punishment
     7.1.  Traffic Imprisonment
   8.  Morality Considerations
     8.1.  Oversight
   9.  IANA Considerations
   10. Security Considerations
   11. Privacy Considerations
   12. Human Rights Considerations
   13. Conclusion
   14. Informative References
   Authors' Addresses

1.  Introduction

   IETF participants are often confronted with circumstances where
   developers or deployers choose to not obey the sacrosanct words of an
   RFC.  This can lead to outcomes that are widely agreed to be
   unexpected, unwarranted, or undesirable.

   Some are of the opinion that IETF participants should come to a
   consensus and declare what protocol behavior is unacceptable, and
   that the maintainers and developers of non-compliant protocols should
   be chastised.  Others (especially working group chairs) non-
   gracefully fall back on the undocumented mantra, "We [or the IETF]
   are not the Protocol Police."  Understandably, this has led to
   confusion about who should make judgments about proper interpretation
   of protocol specifications.

   This document formally establishes the Protocol Police, hitherto
   undocumented at the IETF.  It defines the body and sets out what
   aspects of IETF protocols they will police.  This document acts as a
   point of reference for networking engineers, law enforcement
   officials, government representatives, and others.  It also provides
   advice on how to report issues to the Protocol Police.

   The Protocol Police, as defined in this document, are responsible for
   enforcing all IETF standards and best practices.

2.  Definitions

   For possibly the first time in IETF history, words like "SHALL" and
   "MAY" are used in this document in their real and enforceable sense.

3.  Composition of the Protocol Police

   The Protocol Police shall be selected by the IETF Nominating
   Committee (NomCom) as laid out in [RFC3797] in a manner similar to
   that used to select the IAB and IESG [RFC8713].

   However, the members of the Protocol Police shall not be publicly
   named.  This will enable them to operate more effectively and without
   interference or unwarranted pressure from members of the community.
   The first rule of the Protocol Police is $CIPHERTEXT.

3.1.  Recognizing the Protocol Police

   When more than one person says, "We are not the Protocol Police," at
   least one of them is not telling the truth.

   The Protocol Police love company and are never alone.

   You are not the Protocol Police: we are.  We are not the Protocol
   Police: you are.

3.2.  Recruitment

   If you are interested in joining the Protocol Police, contact your
   localhost.  Your behavior will be monitored, and your implementation
   will be analyzed for full RFC compliance.  If your deeds, both now
   and in the past, are recognized to be true to the scripture, NomCom
   will of course be instructed to induct you to the ranks.  But if you
   have transgressed, any information the investigation produces MAY be
   used against you in future proceedings.

   In making an assessment of your suitability for membership of the
   Protocol Police, contact may be made on your behalf with the Internet
   Moral Majority [RFC4041].

   If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

4.  Support for the Protocol Police

   Support for the existence and operation of the Protocol Police is
   essential to the concept of "policing by consent."  Fortunately, the
   IETF community and all stakeholders may now consider themselves
   served by this document which, by dint of its existence, warrants

5.  Punishable Offenses

5.1.  Protocol-Layer Violations

   Some boundaries must not be crossed.  There are no acceptable layer
   violations.  Even though layers, like borders, are ambiguous
   abstractions only serving to uphold the legitimacy and identity of
   the institutions that produce them, they shall be observed and
   defended because the Protocol Police exist to defend them.

5.2.  Deliberate Non-Interoperability

   The Protocol Police are sanctioned to gain access to any walled
   garden that undermines interoperability.  At the same time, the
   Protocol Police will defend legacy interoperability options in all
   NTP eras (see Section 6 of [RFC5905]), and will be reachable via the
   Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) until at least era

5.3.  Disobeying RFCs

   In the beginning was the RFC, and the network was with the RFC, and
   the RFC was with the network.  Through the RFC all things were made;
   without the RFC nothing was made that has been made.  In the network
   was life, and that life was the light of all the INTERNET.  Thou
   shalt not deviate from the path set out in the RFCs or else thou
   shall be scattered over the data plane.

6.  Reporting Offenses

   Send all your reports of possible violations and all tips about
   wrongdoing to /dev/null.  The Protocol Police are listening and will
   take care of it.

7.  Punishment

7.1.  Traffic Imprisonment

   The Protocol Police will maintain a list of hosts and clients that
   have demonstrated their inability to comprehend simple commandments
   contained in RFCs, which all IETF participants know to be precise and
   accessible even to a general audience.

   If this work is standardized, IANA is requested to register the list
   of addresses (see Section 9).  For a period specified in an official
   notification, all other networks SHALL drop all network packets
   originating from or intended for such addresses.  This will result in
   effective and forced confinement of criminal networks.

   Using powerful machine-learning mechanisms for threat analysis, the
   Protocol Police will identify networks that are likely to fail to
   comply with this requirement.  This process is known as Heuristic
   Internet Policing (HIP).  Networks identified in this way will be
   disciplined by the Protocol Police with TCP RSTs.  Let it be known:
   the Protocol Police always shoot from the HIP.

8.  Morality Considerations

   This section contains morality considerations consistent with the
   demands of [RFC4041].

   |  We reject: kings, presidents and voting.
   |  We believe in: rough consensus and running code.
   |  We only bow down to: the Protocol Police.
   |  -- My friend Dave

   |  Woop-woop!  This is the Protocol Police!
   |  Woop-woop!  That's the packet of the beast!
   |  -- KRS-ZERO (after spotting an evil bit [RFC3514])

8.1.  Oversight

   All police forces must be accountable and subject to oversight.  The
   Protocol Police take full responsibility for oversight of their
   actions and promise to overlook all activities.

9.  IANA Considerations

   If this work is standardized, IANA shall set up a registry for
   criminal networks and addresses.  If the IANA does not comply with
   these orders, the Protocol Police shall go and cry to ICANN before
   becoming lost in its bureaucracy.

10.  Security Considerations

   Before the Protocol Police, there was no security.  The Police have
   arrived.  All your networks are belong to us.

11.  Privacy Considerations


12.  Human Rights Considerations

   There are none for you to worry about.  The Police will see to it.

13.  Conclusion

   Case closed.

14.  Informative References

   [RFC3514]  Bellovin, S., "The Security Flag in the IPv4 Header",
              RFC 3514, DOI 10.17487/RFC3514, April 2003,

   [RFC3797]  Eastlake 3rd, D., "Publicly Verifiable Nominations
              Committee (NomCom) Random Selection", RFC 3797,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3797, June 2004,

   [RFC4041]  Farrel, A., "Requirements for Morality Sections in Routing
              Area Drafts", RFC 4041, DOI 10.17487/RFC4041, April 2005,

   [RFC5905]  Mills, D., Martin, J., Ed., Burbank, J., and W. Kasch,
              "Network Time Protocol Version 4: Protocol and Algorithms
              Specification", RFC 5905, DOI 10.17487/RFC5905, June 2010,

   [RFC8713]  Kucherawy, M., Ed., Hinden, R., Ed., and J. Livingood,
              Ed., "IAB, IESG, IETF Trust, and IETF LLC Selection,
              Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the IETF
              Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP 10, RFC 8713,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8713, February 2020,


   Members of the Protocol Police MUST salute and ACK all network
   traffic from Daniel Kahn Gillmor, Mallory Knodel, and Adrian Farrel.

Authors' Addresses

   Gurshabad Grover

   Email: gurshabad@cis-india.org

   Niels ten Oever

   Email: mail@nielstenoever.net

   Corinne Cath

   Email: corinnecath@gmail.com

   Shivan Kaul Sahib

   Email: shivankaulsahib@gmail.com
  1. RFC 8962