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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
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
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
Original Model of Support(1988 – 1997) Technical Leadership IETF Oversight, $ CNRI NSF Support Services Technical Work done here!
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
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
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
One Proposed Restructuring Model IETF Foundation Fund Raising & Public Interest Oversight Secretariat Other Funds RFC Editor Technical Leadership & Standards development IETF IANA
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
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