Re: Chatham House Rules?

Dave Marr

Great questions.  Since we haven’t had formal governance discussions to date, I’d suggest any application of such norms be by consensus and only going forward. 


For the open mailing list, new additions would also be asked to adhere to such principles.  One implementation has been to announce new member additions in an email that contains a reminder of the governance principles.  However these are details.  Overall I don’t see an administrative barrier that can not be addressed to adopting CHR if folks support doing so.  From a LF values perspective, would CHR pose an issue?


Coming to Joseph’s questions, I wouldn’t try to directly draw legal significance to a normative statement of how a community chooses to self-govern. 


As to the good example of sharing of communication within one’s organization, I’m open to however folks wish to apply CHR.  Perhaps an easy bright line rule can be simply to not mention identity or affiliation outside the meeting, period.  Meeting minutes can exclude such details as well.


Regarding an express community statement that for purposes of our discussion the comments of a participant should not be attributed to their employer, I’m okay with that too, perhaps as an addition to CHR because it addresses slightly different aspects.


Inviting add’l insight, thanks.


From: Mike Dolan [mailto:mdolan@...]
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 6:44 AM
To: Joseph Potvin
Cc: Marr, David; openchain@...
Subject: Re: [OpenChain] Chatham House Rules?


Dave, are you suggesting CHR be applied to a particular area (e.g. the minutes) or broader? Application of CHR to an open mailing list (with archives clearly identifying the source of each message) or to the wiki (which tracks changes by user) would both be difficult to implement under CHR. 



Mike Dolan
Director of Strategic Programs, The Linux Foundation

Office: +1.330.460.3250   Cell: +1.440.552.5322  Skype: michaelkdolan
Email / Google Talk: mdolan@...


On Dec 13, 2014, at 9:21 PM, Joseph Potvin <jpotvin@...> wrote:


RE: "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."

This is a useful and interesting mini-issue to resolve for a multi-entity community concerned with compliance management. I suggest for your consideration that CHR, its longevity notwithstanding, is so broadly worded that its relative popularity almost surely depends upon rather loose compliance generally. (As in: Please put up your hand if you have NOT knowlingly streamed a movie in violation of copyright within the past year.)

If my assessment of the CHR is true, it's probably not the best choice for this group.

When I read the CHR, my first question is: What is presumed to happen if the rule is violated?

My second question is: Would this rule be violated simply when someone outside the conversation says verbally to a colleague in their own organization who was not in the meeting: "Well, that Potvin fellow was suggesting that the CHR would be problematic."  Or, if somebody says externally: "Yes, the guy from Qualcomm was in the conference call today."  Ambiguity about the boundaries is precisely what breeds complacency regarding compliance, I would suggest.

Am I (in)correct in interpreting the CHR to be, de jure, if fully respected, a partial but very strict NDA in which all participants agree to fully exercise their moral right of non-attribution during each OpenChain interaction?

My other concern is that the CHR seems to run contrary to the free/libre/open way, where expectations are usually the other way around: attribution of ideas is what we (free/libre/open software creators) proactively do by default. Legal counsel has other constraints, that's understood. But we have not yet (this being the weekend, granted) heard any specific comment back on my suggestion that "The usual caveat applies..."  so that what people say is deemed to emanate from their own heads, and not from THE corporate heads.






On Sat, Dec 13, 2014 at 7:08 PM, Marr, David <dmarr@...> wrote:

Responding to Joseph's question, the initial motivation was merely to promote open discussion on the substantive OpenChain topics.  I think of CHR as a behavioral norm under which OpenChain list members might -- as a community -- decide to abide.  I agree with prior comments it's not intended as agreement with legal formality.

Restated for convenience:
"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."

Btw on re-read I would note the subject line I picked isn't quite correct; it's not "rules".  There's just one rule.

I'm also fine with the normative statement that one's comments should not be attributed to their employer -- but see this as already partly covered by CHR.  If more is needed, welcoming discussion.

I'll add one more thing.  The reason I'm concerned about reducing barriers to participation is because I deeply appreciate folks taking the time to join the calls, adding their ideas and generally helping drive progress -- and make corrections as needed.  Because of that I'd like to do as much as possible to help deliver to expectations, and with some degree of pace.  So if anyone was held back by the same issues that caused Chatham House to come up with their rule nearly 100 years ago, perhaps adding their time-tested rule would help.

Note also the concern about transparency should be limited to the identity and affiliation of any participant.  The substantive comments can be used -- filtered for identity and affiliation -- which one hopes would be useful.
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Joseph Potvin
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