The United States' temporary ban on seven nations' citizens seeking to walk on it soil has wrung a rare almost-political statement out of the Internet Engineering Task Force.
The standards-rough-consensus-reaching setting body for Internet communications, the IETF still relies, perhaps paradoxically, on face-to-face confabs to discuss protocols, proposals, standards and the meaning of a hum.
The travel restrictions have thrown a spanner in the works, since a standards committee can't work up a good hum if its members are being bounced off planes at international airports, so it's issued this statement.
We do most of our work online, largely through email and mailing lists, but we also regularly meet in-person at locations around the world. Whether online or in-person, we come together as individuals with the shared goal of making the Internet work better … the action raises uncertainty about the ability of U.S.-based IETF participants to travel to and return from IETF meetings held outside the United States.
The body says it's probably too late to relocate its Chicago meeting, planned for March, but future meetings at American venues are under review.
It's a pincer that squeezes the IETF in both directions: people with the wrong passport can't come to America for meetings and American residents with the wrong passport can't leave the country for fear of being barred on their return.
It's probably as close to politics as the IETF gets since its famous 2014 “Pervasive Monitoring is an Attack” response to the revelations of Edward Snowden.
The IETF's cousin ICANN has also had a member cancel a US trip*: Kaveh Ranjbar, an ICANN board member and CIO of the Europe's RIPE Network Coordination Centre.
Ranjba has posted to Facebook that in spite of a multi-entry visa and dual Dutch/Iranian citizenship, "Being born in Tehran means that at least for the next 90 days, I can’t get into the US." He will attend ICANN board meetings remotely.
The brains of the future are also caught up in the insanity. NPR writes that as the winter break draws to a close, US universities are trying to cope with an unknown number of their international students stranded on the wrong side of the border.
For example, it says, City University New York has more than 100 affected students. That's just one university. Of course, given the toxic combination of an anti-intellectual and racist presidency, the idea that foreigners will have their education crimped by the order is probably not distressing at all. ®
Correction: Originally the author stated that Kaveh Ranjbar was barred at the border. RIPE's NCC team has pointed out that Ranjbar did not travel to the US. Our apologies for the error. ®