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Clarification of Member and Invited Expert Confidentiality

From: Adam Warner <lists@consulting.net.nz>
Date: 21 Jul 2002 17:49:10 +1200
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1027230550.2477.110.camel@work>


Eben Moglen, Bruce Perens and Larry Rosen are invited experts
participating in the Patent Policy Working Group. According to the
"World Wide Web Consortium Process Document" (available at
http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/process.html), "Invited
experts have the same rights and responsibilities in a group as
employees of Member organizations." Member responsibilities include the
requirement to treat "all Member-only documents as confidential within
W3C and use reasonable efforts to maintain this confidentiality and not
to release this information to the general public or press."

Furthermore, "Invited experts must agree to the terms set forth in the
invited expert and collaborators agreement [PUB17]". This agreement is
set out at http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/collaborators-agreement
and it specifically states that member proceedings are confidential:
"The proceedings of Member activities are W3C confidential. Capabilities
are granted to individual Participants, not the organization with which
they may be affiliated. Participants should limit communications
relevant to the proceeding of Member activities to others bound by the
member or participant agreements unless a part of their role is sharing
selected information with the public or external communities."

Additionally the names of participants may be protected from disclose
without prior permission (although this provision appears to concern
endorsement): "The Participant will not use the name of W3C, MIT, INRIA
or KEIO and W3C, MIT, INRIA or KEIO will not use the name of the
Participant in any form of publicity without prior permission. This is
often determined by the policy of the Working Group with respect to
contributions to a deliverable or press release attribution."

One interpretation of these provisions is that participants promoting a
new RAND process for the W3C in the course of PPWG proceedings have
confidentiality protection. It's a useful buffer to shield participants
from being responsible to the public for their policy positions.

Another interpretation is that one or more of these invited experts has
a critical role in sharing selected information with the public or
external communities. And part of this information sharing includes
disclosing those organisations intent upon having the W3C promote
recommendations that will be illegal to implement as free software.

What will help nudge these organisations towards a policy position more
congruent with public opinion? Shielding names and proposals from public
scrutiny is not the way.

I challenge all members of the PPWG to explicitly allow the disclosure
of their policy positions and proposals. Explain to the public why your
proposal is in their interests.

I again highlight as a member of the public that I am unable to read the
the PPWG charter (http://www.w3.org/2001/02/16-patent-wg-charter.html),
in particular the rationale for the charter being confidential.

Adam Warner
Received on Sunday, 21 July 2002 01:46:23 UTC

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