IETF moves meeting from USA to Canada to dodge Trump travel ban

15 per cent of potential attendees don't fancy trying to make it to San Francisco

The Internet Engineering Task Force has taken the rare (and possibly costly) decision to relocate an upcoming meeting out of America.

IETF 102, scheduled for mid-2018, was booked for the San Francisco Hilton, but instead will be held in the Fairmont Hotel in Montreal.

The reason, as announced by IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC) chair Leslie Daigle, is the President Donald Trump administration: American travel restrictions make attendance uncertain.

The 'net standards-bearers first started reviewing the status of US meetings in March, citing “uncertainty about the ability of U.S.-based IETF participants to travel to and return from IETF meetings held outside the United States”.

Since then, the travel restrictions have been bounced around between the US legal system and the White House, and the Oversight Committee hasn't seen anything to reduce that uncertainty. Here's its reasoning

At this point in time it is impossible to know or predict the extent of the restrictions placed on individuals attempting to attend IETF 102 twelve months from now, or the level of uncertainty that will exist, and the impact that will have on the ability for the IETF to hold a successful meeting in the United States at that time. However, the current orientation and actions of the US government provide no basis for expecting conditions at the US border to improve for non-citizens.

The organisation had surveyed members about the US travel restrictions: those living in America didn't see a problem, but 15 per cent of the “rest of the world” respondents were concerned, and had already skipped the organisation's last meeting in Chicago as a result. That 15 per cent's fears are not theoretical: the USA now vets social media profiles of some visitors, while the recent denial of entry to Curl developer Daniel Sternberg for unexplained reasons may also make would-be-attendees wary.

The move might not be without cost as if the IETF cannot stage something in San Francisco it will likely lose any deposit paid to the venue. However the announcement notes that if it can avoid that happening, the move will be marginally dollar-positive for the IETF. ®

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