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About Internet Society 30 November 2020

Internet Society Continues Strong Support for the IETF’s Critical Work on Open Standards

Gonzalo Camarillo
By Gonzalo CamarilloChair, Internet Society Board of Trustees

Open standards and the role they play are an important part of what makes the Internet the Internet. A fundamental building block of the Internet and everything it enables, open standards allow devices, services, and applications to work together across the interconnected networks that make up the Internet that we depend on every day. 

In fact, every moment you are online, even just reading this blog post, you are relying on open standards such as DNS, HTTP, and TLS. They are a critical property of what we call the Internet Way of Networking.

Since its inception, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) – a global community of thousands of engineers who are working each day to create and improve open standards to make the Internet work better – has been at the center of technical innovation for the global Internet. In addition to the standards themselves, the open processes and principles through which they are developed ensure the evolution of Internet technologies that meet the need of the growing number of devices and uses that empower people around the world to connect, share, learn, and more. This places the work of the IETF, and other groups focused on open standards, at the heart of what we at the Internet Society are working towards – an open, globally-connected, secure and trustworthy Internet for everyone. 

While the engineers participate in the IETF as volunteers, there are significant costs for the ongoing operations of this critical standards development work. Over the years, in addition to contributions from the Internet Society, the IETF’s budget has been met through a combination of meeting sponsorships, meeting attendance fees, and donations from organizations.

In 2018, the IETF LLC was established to provide an administrative and legal framework for the work of the IETF. The Internet Society agreed to continue supporting the IETF’s operations through the Internet Society Foundation with an initial two-year agreement with the IETF LLC. The idea was to get some experience with the IETF’s new administrative structure in order to better understand the future needs of the IETF.  With that agreement coming to an end in December 2020, we are pleased to announce a new, longer-term strategic agreement with the IETF LLC to help ensure the continuity of the IETF’s efforts in creating open standards that power the Internet.  

This new agreement, which will last for six years, includes two types of financial support. Both of these will be provided by the Internet Society Foundation as an extension of the role it has played in funding the IETF since 2018. The first is continued support for a portion of the IETF’s annual operating expenses, at specific levels for each year to enable stronger long-term financial planning by the IETF.  Over the six years this will average out to approximately $7 million USD per year. 

The second is a new program to support the IETF endowment. In 2016, the Internet Society established an endowment for the sustainability of the IETF in order to provide long-term stability and increased diversity for funding IETF activities and operations. The endowment was then transferred to the IETF LLC when this was established in 2018. With this newly-established program, the Internet Society will match third-party donations to the IETF endowment in order to encourage and amplify donations from organizations and individuals across the Internet who are willing to financially support this critical work of creating open Internet standards. Over the six years, the Internet Society will match gifts up to a total of $30 million USD. The goal of this program is to enable the IETF to build a strong donation base for better long-term financial sustainability. 

The Internet means so much to so many people, and the benefits it brings to us all is comes down to the technology that underpins it. We at the Internet Society and the Internet Society Foundation thank the IETF LLC board for their hard work in developing these plans and reaching this agreement. We are pleased to be able to support the continuity of this work, and our own mission, through this agreement. We look forward to continuing our work with the IETF and its community to make the Internet work better for everyone.

Editor’s Note: This blog was updated on 1 December 2020 to clarify that the funding is being provided by the Internet Society Foundation.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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