Internet Society (ISOC)
INTERNET SOCIETY (ISOC)
By the 2000s, there were countless societies, taskforces, initiatives, and organizations ostensibly in place to guide or regulate myriad facets of e-commerce and the Internet. One of the most prolific and respected was the Internet Society (ISOC), a nonprofit corporation based in Reston, Virginia, whose broad goal was to facilitate global cooperation and coordination for the Internet by helping to devise new regulatory and technical standards to keep the Internet open, vibrant, and competitive.
A holistically oriented body, the ISOC addresses the broader framework of how the Internet fits into and serves society and how to best shape it. It sees the proliferation and development of the Internet as an end in itself, as well as a mechanism by which companies, individuals, and governments around the world can cooperate in and enhance their respective fields of interest.
Thus, the ISOC specifically addresses several diverse areas of concern.
- It helps to devise and implement technical standards for the Internet and its internetworking technologies and applications.
- It harmonizes policies and developments at the international level.
- It devises and contributes to administrative policies and processes.
- It leads educational and research efforts to promote better understanding of and dialogue about the Internet.
- It collects and stores data for archiving and disseminating the history of the Internet.
- It performs hands-on work in helping developing countries to implement a viable Internet infrastructure.
The proposed formation of the Internet Society was formally announced at an international networking conference in Copenhagen in June 1991, and officially launched in January of the following year. By the early 2000s, its professional membership consisted of more than 150 organizational and 6,000 individual members from more than 100 countries around the world including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, leading corporations, and startup entrepreneurs. Its guiding principles call for an Internet that is free of direct or indirect censorship (such as restrictive governmental or private control of Internet technology), absent of discrimination in any form, and free of the misuse of personal information. Its principles also call for self-regulation and the cooperative development of technical standards, as well as greater networking between individuals and organizations.
One of the ISOC's greatest concerns at the start of the 2000s was the management of the global Domain Name System (DNS). Its most ambitious proposals, generated under its Council of Registrars (CORE), would have transformed the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) into a governing body with the power to set—and the teeth to enforce—its own rules governing domain name accreditation. The ISOC also worked to promote the commercial potential of the Internet, and its input helped to shape the U.S. White House strategy paper on global e-commerce.
The ISOC channeled funding and support to the other organizations under its umbrella, including the Internet Advisory Board (IAB) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IAB's primary functions included guiding the architecture for protocols and procedures devised for the Internet; representing the Internet Society's interests in relationships with other concerned organizations; and administrative duties, such as overseeing the process by which standards are created to ensure that they are committed to open participation and fair practice. The IETF serves a more explicitly technical role. It is comprised of technology experts—including software and technical designers, vendors, operators, and researchers—joined in the development and promotion of design standards for the harmonious operation and evolution of the Internet.
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"The IETF Home Page." Reston, VA: Internet Engineering Task Force, 2000. Available from www.ietf.org/.
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SEE ALSO: Global e-Commerce Regulation; Internet Infrastructure; World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
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