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Re: W3C Formal Objections: When Powerful Corporations Play Both Sides

From: Brent Zundel <brent.zundel@evernym.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2021 11:19:01 -0600
Message-ID: <CAHR74YWBEhW54U6qT57U0ir=BbLRR7CwREhNu9maj+cS2xGDhA@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Siegman, Tzviya" <tsiegman@wiley.com>
Cc: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>, W3C Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
Thank you Tzviya for that reminder.

On Tue, Oct 12, 2021 at 10:26 AM Siegman, Tzviya <tsiegman@wiley.com> wrote:

> Hi All,
>
> I am a member of the AB. I think that it would be a good idea to talk to
> some people who have been involved in the Formal Objection Process work to
> get a clear understanding of the Formal Objection Council proposal. The FO
> Council has met only once before, but we have been asked to review two
> other FOs before DID. I am concerned with Manu's representation of the FO
> Council in his document. It is very much a work in progress. The FO Council
> for DID has not yet been formed. I encourage you to read Florian Rivoal's
> comments at
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-ac-forum/2021OctDec/0012.html.
> For those of you who don't have access to that list, I will quote Florian:
>
> The Team has been stripped of nothing at all:
>
> * A formal objection is a request to the Director, not to the Team. The
> Director has frequently chosen to let the Team run this process for him,
> but the decision has always been formally issued under his name, and he has
> always been perfectly free to reject a Team's opinion if he thinks they are
> misguided.
>
> * In the case, the Team has suggested (for the purpose of learning how
> well a council would work, and to get assistance on a problem judged
> difficult) that the Director and his delegate(s) hears the the opinion of a
> prototype council. Just as when the Team does the work, the Director
> remains perfectly free to reject the opinion of the proto-council if he
> finds it inappropriate. In fact, the Team isn't even required to forward to
> the Director a council conclusion that it would find inappropriate itself.
> The proposed process is purely advisory.
>
> If/When the Council is formally adopted by the membership, this would only
> happen through a formal revision of the Process, subject to AC Review, and
> after appropriate discussion in the AC. But for the decisions at hand,
> there's no usurpation of power, and no ambiguity where it lies: with the
> Director, as it always has.
> -endquote-
>
> You may review issues related to the Formal Objection Council at
> https://github.com/w3c/w3process/issues?q=is%3Aopen+is%3Aissue+label%3A%22Director-free%3A+FO%2FCouncil%22
> .
>
> Tzviya
>
> Tzviya Siegman
> Information Standards Principal
> Wiley
> 201-748-6884
> tsiegman@wiley.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
> Sent: Monday, October 11, 2021 10:37 PM
> To: W3C Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
> Subject: W3C Formal Objections: When Powerful Corporations Play Both Sides
>
> ⛔       This is an external email.
>
>
> Hi folks,
>
> Just giving this community a heads-up that the W3C Advisory Committee
> Meeting is tomorrow at 9am ET (you must be a W3C Member and an Advisory
> Committee Representative to attend, IIUC):
>
>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2021/10/TPAC/ac-agenda.html*live__;Iw!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-Mt3JNyVA$
>
> Based on the recent Google, Apple, and Mozilla objections to the DID Core
> specification becoming a global standard, I prepared the following open
> letter to the W3C Advisory Committee and kicked off a discussion with the
> 450+ W3C AC Members earlier today:
>
>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-ac-forum/2021OctDec/0007.html__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-NN5BWPlw$
>
> Again, you can't see the discussion unless you're a W3C Member. I know
> that will be frustrating for most of you so I've set up a FAQ page to cover
> topics being discussed with the AC (without violating W3C Member
> confidentiality) here:
>
>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://msporny.github.io/did-core-formal-objections/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-NyHJqJ-A$
>
> The original open letter that I sent can be found below. If you are a W3C
> AC Representative, please make sure to engage the AC to help educate them
> about the DID Core objections, the validity of the arguments, and your
> thoughts about how to proceed.
>
> -------------------------------------------------------
>
> Fellow W3C Advisory Committee Representatives,
>
> This is an open letter to each of you highlighting deep concerns with the
> new Director-free approach[1] to processing Formal Objections. Namely, the
> new process provides advantages to objectors that also sit on the same W3C
> Council that determines the outcome of formal objections. That is, per the
> new process, Google, Apple, and Mozilla get to object to a new standard for
> the Web and then could provide input on determining whether or not to
> uphold their own objection. The concern is not theoretical, it is occurring
> as you read this letter.
>
> For those of you that might not be aware, here is a summary of the current
> state of play:
>
> The W3C Decentralized Identifier (DID) Working Group[2] had consensus[3]
> to propose publication of DID Core 1.0[4] as a W3C Proposed Recommendation.
> There were 40 W3C Member companies that agreed to publication of DID Core
> 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation and there were 3 companies that objected:
> Google, Apple, and Mozilla. The W3C Team stepped in to mediate a
> discussion[6] that did not resolve the formal objections.
>
> The acting W3C Director then decided to request feedback from the W3C
> Council[7], which is composed of the W3C Advisory Board and the W3C
> Technical Architecture Group, and take the new W3C Council Formal Objection
> resolution process for a spin. The Decentralized Identifier Working Group
> is deeply frustrated by this recent turn of events, but understands that
> someone needs to be the first through this new process.
>
> There are four aspects of how this is playing out that are deeply
> concerning:
>
> 1. The objectors (Google, Apple, and Mozilla), and the proponents (over 40
> companies) collectively hold 7 out of the 21 seats on the W3C Council.
> This enables 1/3rd of the W3C Council who are taking a position on the
> formal objection to engage in what is supposed to be an impartial process.
>
> 2. The new W3C Council Formal Objection Process gently suggests that
> individuals that might have a conflict of interest can voluntarily recuse
> themselves; the decision is left up to the individual. Apple has raised a
> formal objection and sits on both the W3C AB and W3C TAG; are both
> individuals expected to recuse themselves? I hope the answer to this
> question is "Yes, because the formal objection is on behalf of Apple and
> therefore, there is a conflict of interest." The same recusal issue applies
> to Google's representatives.
>
> 3. The W3C Team, who have a long and positive track record of striking the
> right balance when providing input into these sorts of decisions, have been
> stripped of any decision making authority.
>
> 4. Lastly, Google, Apple, and Mozilla made no attempt to bring their
> formal objections to the Decentralized Identifier Working Group since the
> Working Group started, and then during the first transition to Candidate
> Recommendation and then during the second transition to Candidate
> Recommendation. The first time the group heard of these objections during
> its two-year charter was in the days before the poll closed to approve DID
> Core
> 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation.
>
> Given these concerns, the W3C Advisory Committee should provide some
> guidance to this new formal objection process, as all of us will experience
> what is going on now at some point if we don't resolve these issues as a
> community.
>
> There are courses of action that we can take to resolve these concerns:
>
> 1. Make communicating with the W3C Council regarding the formal objection
> strictly off-limits outside of the formal objection process (public
> communication is allowed, non-public communication is disallowed).
> Violating this hard line should result in removal from the W3C TAG or W3C
> AB because it is an egregious violation of trust in our elected
> representatives.
>
> 2. Make recusal from the W3C Council decision mandatory for any individual
> that is associated on either side of the formal objection.
>
> 3. Ensure that the W3C Staff are a substantive part of the formal
> objection process, and not relegated to the sidelines as they seem to be in
> the new W3C Council-based process. They are a check and balance that we
> should be depending on as a community.
>
> 4. Strike down formal objections that made no attempt to engage with the
> Working Group. Allowing formal objections in the 11th hour accomplishes
> nothing other than stress, distrust, and drama -- three things we don't
> need more of at W3C. The W3C Process should be predictable, trustworthy,
> and boring.
>
> I plan to bring all of this up during our upcoming W3C Advisory Committee
> meeting. We have some work to do if we want to ensure a smooth transition
> to handling Formal Objections via the W3C Council.
>
> -- manu
>
> [1]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2021/05/W3C_Council_Guide.html__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-OKtmovWQ$
> [2]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2019/did-wg/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-MQv8VLjQ$
> [3]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2019/did-wg/Meetings/Minutes/2021-07-20-did*resolution1__;Iw!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-MEjEEcRg$
> [4]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/TR/did-core/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-NHugVPog$
> [5]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/33280/did-core-pr/results__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-PyQtt9gQ$
> [6]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2021/09/21-did10-minutes.html__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-OcXP6Amw$
> [7]
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.w3.org/2019/did-wg/Meetings/Minutes/2021-10-05-did*section2__;Iw!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-NlpJDZ8g$
>
> --
> Manu Sporny -
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.linkedin.com/in/manusporny/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-OV10MZfA$
> Founder/CEO
> <https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.linkedin.com/in/manusporny/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-OV10MZfA$Founder/CEO>
> - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
> News: Digital Bazaar Announces New Case Studies (2021)
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.digitalbazaar.com/__;!!N11eV2iwtfs!6bJoscnPOotS2sALFESxKiyUDjYCgMQZDiNctGW14POMRbW74cx_F-MzSMZ6gQ$
>
>
>

-- 
Brent Zundel, Evernym
Principle Cryptography Engineer
Received on Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:20:00 UTC

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