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Guidelines for Handling SPEC Information

1.0 Introduction
2.0 Anti-Trust Compliance
3.0 How Information is Classified and Unclassified
4.0 Classifications
   4.1 SPEC Confidential Need-to-Know
      4.1.1 Document Handling Guidelines
   4.2 SPEC Confidential
5.0 Who May Have Access to SPEC Confidential Information
6.0 Meetings
   6.1 Press Participation
   6.2 Audio/Visual Recording
7.0 Results Review
   7.1 New Benchmark Announcements
8.0 SPEC Press Relations

1.0 Introduction

SPEC is an industry consortium whose membership includes many competing for-profit corporations. Membership in SPEC is open to all persons who are directly and materially affected by SPEC's activities, and participation in SPEC activities is generally open to all members. However, in order to protect the interests of SPEC and its members, and to encourage free and open participation and discussion to further SPEC's objectives, public release of SPEC internal information may be prohibited without explicit approval from the SPEC organization concerned. Violators of this policy will be subject to the full force of the SPEC penalties process.

2.0 Anti-Trust Compliance

Since all SPEC meetings are to be conducted in compliance with all applicable laws, including anti-trust laws, the following policies shall be followed in the course of SPEC meetings, telephone meetings, and electronic exchanges: Any discussions that relate to the validity or cost of patent use should be avoided. Any discussions or any material relating to an ongoing litigation shall be avoided, except for the Board in executive session with advice of counsel to discuss matters affecting SPEC. Any discussions of pricing or issues that would violate US antitrust laws shall be avoided.

3.0 How Information is Classified and Unclassified

SPEC officers and the SPEC Administrator may explicitly designate certain information classified and mark it appropriately. Any member that wishes to be sure that its information is treated as SPEC Confidential should clearly label each page (electronic or hard copy) as such. It is the member's responsibility to assure that such information is appropriately labeled. Information not explicitly marked but which meets the descriptions in this policy must be taken as though it were so marked.

Classified information may become public through the authorized public release of the information by SPEC or by a member. If classified information is disclosed without authorization (leaked), that does not automatically remove its classification and relieve participants of the obligation to protect that information from further disclosure. However, if an unauthorized disclosure is widespread, then a SPEC officer may redesignate that information as public, stating the reason for so doing.

4.0 Classifications

SPEC identifies two levels of internal information which must be protected by SPEC members and associates, employees, and contractors, in accordance with these policies. "SPEC Confidential" is the ordinary classification of information which should not be disclosed outside SPEC. "SPEC Confidential Need-to-Know" refers to the most sensitive information described below.

4.1 SPEC Confidential Need-to-Know

This is information that must be restricted to only those individuals who must have it in order to carry out their SPEC responsibilities. In meetings, this information is discussed only when the board adjourns to executive session. Only the author of such a document, or the SPEC President, can change the classification or the approved reader list. Examples of Confidential Need-to-Know information includes:

  • information concerning litigation
  • certain matters that relate to the formation of contracts with third parties
  • employee salaries, performance appraisals, and other personnel matters
  • administrative (root) passwords of SPEC business computers

4.1.1 Document Handling Guidelines

Documents of this sensitivity class will always be clearly labeled "SPEC Confidential Need-to-Know" on each page. The documents may be numbered for control purposes.
SPEC Private documents must have a cover page which serves to:

1. hide the first page of the document,
2. document the approved reader list, and
3. document the date the information is no longer SPEC Confidential, if any,
 
Such documents should always be carefully transported. Documents should be kept inside an envelope, clearly labeled with the approved reader's name, when not in active use. Only persons on the approved reader list are privy to the document contents.
Email should be used sparingly for communicating such information. Messages should be sent directly to the intended recipient(s) rather than to any mail alias. Messages should be retained no longer than absolutely necessary, and should be kept separate from other messages. Encryption should be employed where possible.

4.2 SPEC Confidential

The following information is "SPEC Confidential":

  • unpublished benchmark results, including configuration details, under SPEC review
  • benchmarks under development, including run rules, code, tools, workloads, benchmark and workload analyses, and benchmark design
  • the content of SPEC meetings
  • messages received on SPEC members email aliases
  • passwords to the SPEC members web site, and to accounts on SPEC computers
  • the content of the SPEC members web site
  • SPEC financial data
  • SPEC email and phone lists
    Note that non-members of SPEC should not be on mailing aliases. Please note that SPEC offers various levels of membership to fill different needs for information access.

5.0 Who May Have Access to SPEC Confidential Information

Confidential information is provided to SPEC members through their designated primary SPEC representatives, and those representatives of SPEC subcommittees designated by the member's primary SPEC representative. It is the responsibility of those representatives to determine who within a member company should have access to the information in order to carry out the member's SPEC activities; and it is their responsibility to ensure that anyone who does have access to SPEC Confidential information understands and agrees to abide by these guidelines. A member's SPEC representatives should use whatever internal controls are appropriate in their company to ensure that the member complies with SPEC's policies on confidentiality.

6.0 Meetings

Information about the activities and developments of SPEC are intended to be readily available to all parties with legitimate interests in the performance of advanced computer systems. The Board is responsible to carry out this policy.

The annual meeting of the SPEC membership must be open to any interested party with a legitimate interest in the work of the Corporation, including the press. Other meetings of each SPEC group and committee must be open to representatives of every member of that group. It is expected that meetings of any SPEC group will also be open to members of any other SPEC group, to encourage wider participation and exchange of ideas. However, a SPEC group may set a more restrictive policy for some or all meetings, subject to Board review. Interested parties who are not SPEC members, but who have a legitimate interest in its work, may be invited to its meetings by the SPEC group holding the meeting.

6.1 Press Participation

Press representatives who are not SPEC members are generally excluded from SPEC meetings other than the annual meeting, unless the chair of the SPEC group or subcommittee, invites the press to attend. If the press is in attendance, the chair should announce press attendance.  The press is encouraged to use such attendance opportunities to gain background information in technical areas of performance benchmarking. SPEC is primarily an engineering organization which depends on frank and open exchange and debate of views. Views expressed in SPEC meetings are not expected necessarily to reflect official positions of SPEC member companies and organizations. SPEC asks that the press show restraint in any coverage based on SPEC meetings, so as not to jeopardize our open exchange of views.

6.2 Audio/Visual Recording

SPEC committees may apply restrictions on the use of audio recording, video recording, or photography equipment where they may impede free discussion, or where they are disruptive. Such restrictions should be clearly identified, in advance, to attendees.

7.0 Results Review

Benchmark results submitted for SPEC review, as for publication on the SPEC web site, are considered SPEC Confidential. This includes the benchmark result, the configuration, availability dates, and tuning notes. Within a member company this information should be shared with only those people necessary to provide a thorough review of the results, per paragraph 5.0.

Information which the submitting company makes public is not considered confidential. E.g., a company may issue a press release or briefing listing performance of new systems and, around the same time, submit those benchmark results for SPEC publication. In this case details included in the full SPEC disclosure under review, which were not included in the company's public announcement are not considered SPEC Confidential,  because the run rules of each benchmark require the full SPEC disclosure to be publicly available.

If results are later published, then the result is public. If results are withdrawn or disapproved during SPEC review and are not published, then they remain SPEC Confidential. E.g., if a company submits results that are disapproved for SPEC publication, you may not make public use of that fact.

New and unique optimization techniques that appear in a result disclosure should not be utilized by another member until the original submission has completed its review cycle. The subcommittee may decide to suspend a result in review should this guideline not be followed. Trying to surpass a result currently under review is considered common practice and is not prohibited. Published information found in press releases, public web sites, manuals, etc. can be used at any time.

7.1 New Benchmark Announcements

More restrictive confidentiality rules may be applied by the SPEC groups on the occasion of results review for SPEC's announcement of a new benchmark suite,  in addition to all of the preceding rules.

8.0 SPEC Press Relations

Press releases from SPEC must be approved by the SPEC group concerned, and by the Board.

SPEC members may occasionally be interviewed by the press, e.g. on the subject of newly released benchmarks. Normally SPEC's PR consultant will participate in such interviews in order to see that SPEC is treated fairly, and to assure all SPEC members that information is being represented in an unbiased manner. The Board Press Committee may on a case by case basis, waive this requirement, based on such factors as: degree of controversy of the subject, potential for appearance of conflict of interest by the spokesman, legal advice, advice from SPEC's PR consultant, recommendation of steering committee and technical committees and their chairs, experience of spokesman, experiences with the reporter, etc.