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  1. Internet Standards Processand the Public Interest A Presentation to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) By Robert E. Kahn March 22, 2005

  2. The Internet Standards Process • The Internet standards process is key to the evolution of the Internet • Multiple Groups are involved, but the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) plays a dominant role • Challenges for the IETF: • Insuring a level playing field for all participants • Combining innovation with Stability • Clearing impediments to Architectural change • Assurances against default capture by special interest groups – funding considerations • Representing the broader public interest

  3. How was the Internet Standards Process developed? • Initially, it was part of a DARPA research project and managed by DARPA (1973 – 1985) • In 1978, DARPA formed an Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB) consisting of twelve network implementers from the research community plus the DARPA leadership • The ICCB meetings were open to “listeners” and by 1983 we had hundreds of attendees for a meeting of twelve principals.

  4. Internet Activities Board (IAB) • The IAB replaced the ICCB in 1983 • It too, consisted of twelve members, and began with ten working groups • By 1986, there were over fifty working groups all coordinated by the IAB • One of the working groups, called Internet Engineering, was asked to coordinate the working groups and to report to the IAB. • This became known as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

  5. The Role of NSF • NSF followed the DARPA effort by expanding the networking base to the larger research and education community in the U.S. • It created NSFNET and expanded network connections internationally • It assumed responsibility for supporting the IAB and the IETF in the 1980s after DARPA terminated its ongoing networking programs via a Cooperative Agreement with CNRI • Direct U.S. Government support ended at the end of 1997 when the Cooperative Agreement ended • At that point, continued support seemed possible from meeting attendance fees.

  6. What is the IETF? • Developed as a consensus-based mechanism for developing Internet Standards – grass roots, bottom up • Open to anyone who wishes to participate • The IETF is now organized into more than 100 working groups with its own management structure • The leadership consists of: • IETF Chair, Area Directors, Working Group Chairs and a Steering Group (IESG). • Publication of Standards via “RFC Series” • Coordination with IANA on various matters • More recently, with Internet growth and uptake, the workload has increased, and the IETF has been forced to slow down and try to adapt

  7. Method of Operation • Working Groups (WGs) meet as they please, where they please, and much work occurs on the Internet • New WGs require approved charters • Three meetings per year, two in the US • Typical attendance 1000 – 3000 people • Funding primarily from attendance fees • Financial support from CNRI as needed; plus meeting sponsorships • Much activity on-line, mailing lists, automated tracking/dispatching of actions, etc.

  8. Original Model of Support(1988 – 1997) Technical Leadership IETF Oversight, $ CNRI NSF Support Services Technical Work done here!

  9. Subsequent Model of Support(1998 – present) Technical Leadership IETF Oversight, $ Foretec Seminars CNRI Support Services Technical Work done here! Enable the IETF Secretariat In the public interest Foretec created in 1998 as a subsidiary of CNRI

  10. Issues with the Current Mode of Operation • Meeting attendance down significantly in past 3 years – Internet bubble, 9-11, etc, maturation of the IETF • Shortfalls in past two years, staff reductions • Lack of agreement on supplemental funding sources with IETF leadership  undermanned • Use of “dot org” support being explored to supplement meeting fees via Internet Society • No mechanisms to regulate demand for service • Or renegotiate changes in available resources

  11. IETF Attendance & Revenue • Attendance for 3 Meetings per year • Gov’t funds used through 1997 • Attendance rose until 2000 then fell • Prognosis for the period 2006 - 2010 is 2500 - 3000/year

  12. One Proposed Restructuring Model IETF Foundation Fund Raising & Public Interest Oversight Secretariat Other Funds RFC Editor Technical Leadership & Standards development IETF IANA

  13. Current Restructuring Plan New Service Provider Buyer IETF Internet Administrative Support Activity License Sale of Foretec Seminars IASA Trust FT Transfer of IETF-related IP and other assets CNRI Administrative Director Oversight Committee

  14. IASA • An IETF Activity for administering the Internet Standards Process • The IETF Administrative Director (IAD) would be an employee of the Internet Society • The IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC) would consist of eight voting members and the IAD who serves, ex officio, as a non-voting member of the IAOC

  15. IAOC Voting Members • 2 members appointed by a nominating committee of the IETF • 1 member appointed by the IESG • 1 member appointed by the IAB • 1 member appointed by the Internet Society Board of Trustees • The IETF Chair (ex officio) • The IAB Chair (ex officio) • The ISOC President/CEO (ex officio)

  16. IAD Responsibilities • Manage the IASA to meet the administrative needs of the IETF • Establish an operating budget and administer IETF finances • Issuing RFPs, helping to select service providers and negotiating contracts • Managing business relationships • Establishing mechanisms to track performance

  17. IAOC Responsibilities • Provide direction to the IAD on behalf of the IETF leadership • Oversee the functioning of the IASA (not an operating role) • Specifically • Select the IAD and provide high-level review and direction • Review plans and contracts • Develop corrective actions where needed • Temporarily assume duties of the IAD, if there is no IAD or the IAD is unavailable

  18. Ensuring the Public Interest • The IETF has been effective in managing the development of Internet Standards to date • It may have mattered less in the past, but at present, there is no formal means within the IETF to ensure the broad public interest is addressed • Only those who can afford to attend IETF meetings and participate in the process are likely to influence the development of standards • There is no test of the larger public good, and no means to affect technical decisions about standards whose implications may go beyond the interests of IETF participants

  19. Some Concerns? • The IETF believes the current processes are satisfactory to meet future needs and that they are able to change them, as appropriate • The United Nations wants to play a role in this domain, especially with the convergence of online and wireless technology, including now telephony and video services • Some nations feel that “legitimacy” requires a body like the UN to play a leading role • Despite its origins, most private sector business groups are convinced that the Internet cannot flourish under Government dominion, whether the UN or any individual government.

  20. Possible Next Steps? • Cause a dialog to be initiated involving multiple stakeholders to identify the public interest issues which require attention and are effected by technical choices that have impact beyond the purely technical • Use these results to inform ourselves (as a nation) and to work with other informed nations in moving forward with a domestic and global agenda to address these issues • The list of issues are potentially quite large; a small sampler set might include: • Identifying and protecting against anti-competitive technical practices; empowering disadvantaged citizens on the net; allowing for interoperability among different information systems; providing visibility into information management practices; building network-based diagnostic and forensic tools