Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

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The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the leading Internet standards body. It develops open standards through open processes with one goal in mind: to make the Internet work better. A large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers, the IETF focuses on the evolution of Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) complement the work of the IETF by, respectively, providing long-range technical direction for Internet development and promoting research important to the Internet’s evolution.[1]

The IETF is organized into a large number of working groups and birds of a feather informal discussion groups, each dealing with a specific topic. The IETF operates in a bottom-up task creation mode, largely driven by these working groups.[2] Each working group has an appointed chairperson (or sometimes several co-chairs); a charter that describes its focus; what it is expected to produce, and when. It is open to all who want to participate and holds discussions on an open mailing list or at IETF meetings, where the entry fee in July 2014 was US$650 per person. As of mid-2018, the fees are early bird $700, late payment $875, student $150, and a one-day pass for $375.

Rough consensus is the primary basis for decision-making. There are no formal voting procedures. Because the majority of the IETF's work is done via mailing lists, meeting attendance is not required for contributors. Each working group is intended to complete work on its topic and then disband. In some cases, the working group will instead have its charter updated to take on new tasks as appropriate.

The working groups are organized into areas by subject matter. Current areas are Applications, General, Internet, Operations and Management, Real-time Applications and Infrastructure, Routing, Security, and Transport.[5] Each area is overseen by an area director (AD), with most areas having two co-ADs. The ADs are responsible for appointing working group chairs. The area directors, together with the IETF Chair, form the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), which is responsible for the overall operation of the IETF.

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) oversees the IETF's external relationships and relations with the RFC Editor. The IAB provides long-range technical direction for Internet development. The IAB is also jointly responsible for the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC), which oversees the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA), and provides logistical, etc. support for the IETF. The IAB also manages the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), with which the IETF has a number of cross-group relations.

A Nominating Committee (NomCom) of ten randomly chosen volunteers who participate regularly at meetings is vested with the power to appoint, reappoint, and remove members of the IESG, IAB, IASA, and IAOC. To date, no one has been removed by a NomCom, although several people have resigned from their positions, requiring replacements.

In 1993 the IETF changed from an activity supported by the US Federal Government to an independent, international activity associated with the Internet Society, a US-based 501(c)(3) organization. Because the IETF itself does not have members, nor is it an organization per se, the Internet Society provides the financial and legal framework for the activities of the IETF and its sister bodies (IAB, IRTF). IETF activities are funded by meeting fees, meeting sponsors, and by the Internet Society via its organizational membership and the proceeds of the Public Interest Registry.

In December 2005 the IETF Trust was established to manage the copyrighted materials produced by the IETF.[2]

See Also

Active Directory