IETF Open Internet Standards

Outgoing IETF Chair: Governments Should Embrace Internet Standards

Today, 13 March 2013, I stepped down as Chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). At the IETF 86 meeting in Orlando, Florida, I gave some parting comments to the engineers, computer scientists, and researchers that attended the meeting. In closing, I have a message to governments from around the world:

If you’ve embraced the Internet, you should also embrace the standards that make the Internet work.

More than two billion people around the world use the Internet every day. Nearly every government on Earth makes use of the Internet to provide services and information to its citizens.  However, many of these governments do not recognize the standards that allow the Internet to function.

The Internet is valuable, and global interoperability is the key property that makes it valuable. However, no one is in charge of the Internet. Instead, many people cooperate to make it work.  Collaboration is essential to the operation of the Internet, and that aspect of the Internet is mirrored in the IETF standards process. Each person brings a unique perspective of the Internet, and this diversity sometimes makes it difficult to reach consensus. Yet, when consensus is achieved, the outcome is better, clearer, and more strongly supported than the initial position of any participant.

Despite the global acceptance of the Internet as well as use of an open and transparent standard process, some governments have no way to reference these IETF standards in their regulations. I strongly encourage all governments to find a way to formally recognize the IETF standards that allow the Internet to work each and every day.