RFC 1087 “Ethics and Internet” (1989)

Bitcoin may be understood as an Internet protocol. If so, it may be of interest to look at the procedure that was followed for adopting other Internet protocols as a model for responsible governance.

Doing this, I found RFC 1087, titled “Ethics and the Internet” and published in 1989.

That RFC stated that several activities are unacceptable. One of them was any activity that “disrupts the intended use of the Internet”.

It closes with this paragraph:

The IAB plans to take whatever actions it can, in concert with Federal agencies and other interested parties, to identify and to set up technical and procedural mechanisms to make the Internet more resistant to disruption. Such security, however, may be extremely expensive and may be counterproductive if it inhibits the free flow of information which makes the Internet so valuable. In the final analysis, the health and well-being of the Internet is the responsibility of its users who must, uniformly, guard against abuses which disrupt the system and threaten its long-term viability. (emphasis added)

In the same way, it is the responsibility of the users to guard against threats of disruption against the Bitcoin network.

There may be different opinions on what exactly that means for the present governance conflict. But everyone should probably agree that any activity intentionally disrupting the Bitcoin network is unethical and unacceptable.

The procedure for adopting Internet standards basically requires showing two things.

An Internet Standard is characterized by a high degree of technical maturity and by a generally held belief that the specified protocol or service provides significant benefit to the Internet community.

Applying these requirements to new proposed Bitcoin rules would mean: Your proposed rule would need to be “technically mature” (disqualifying the “Bitcoin Unlimited” proposal) and “generally supported” (disqualifying it again).

In contrast, you can’t get an Internet protocol approved by hash power majority independent of the above requirements. I think that’s a good thing for Internet governance. It should be the same for Bitcoin governance.