Internet Society Celebrates 20 Years of Standards, Advocacy

The Internet Society, a nonprofit that operates the .org registry and funds Internet standards development work, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a gala event in Geneva next month.

By Carolyn Duffy Marsan
Mon, March 26, 2012

Network World — The Internet Society, a nonprofit that operates the .org registry and funds Internet standards development work, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a gala event in Geneva next month.

IN PICTURES: The Evolution of the Internet

ISOC is dedicated to the idea that the Internet should be a decentralized platform for innovation that is open to all people around the globe. ISOC sponsors the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a standards-setting body, as well as the Internet Architecture Board, which provides technical advice to policymakers. With 120 corporate members, 100 chapters and nearly 60,000 individual members, ISOC is a powerful advocate for transparent, self-governing process for developing the technical underpinnings of the Internet.

We spoke with Lynn St. Amour (pictured), president and CEO of ISOC, about the group's biggest successes over the last 20 years and the challenges it faces in the future. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

When is ISOC's actual birthday?

The date of incorporation was in early January 1992. It basically came out of work that Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn [inventors of the Internet Protocol] were doing to create a charter statement for the organization.

What is ISOC doing to celebrate its 20th anniversary?

We're having a year-long celebration. On our website, we have a feature called "The Wishing Tree" where we are collecting people's wishes for the Internet. We're also launching an Internet Hall of Fame at the INET conference in April. We'll be announcing three categories of winners. One category is pioneers, who are the people who were there at the dawn of the Internet. Another one is for global connectors, those people who have done extraordinary things to bring the Internet to other communities, in some cases developing countries and in other cases new applications. Then we have a third category that is innovators. We'll be making the announcement of our first inductees at the global INET conference in Geneva, where we will have a gala awards dinner. Global INET will be a celebration, where we have past trustees and luminaries such as Leonard Kleinrock coming to speak. We also have Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf. INET is April 23 to 24. The gala is the 23rd.

Can you describe the state of ISOC as it turns 20?

We're stronger than we've ever been. We are very happy to continue supporting the IETF in a way that's given them autonomy for all of their activities. We're able to do that because ISOC bid to run the .org registry 10 years ago. The Public Interest Registry (PIR) is the supporting entity for ISOC to run .org. The .org income allows us to do an awful lot more in terms of development activities around the world. We do a lot with Internet exchange points and grants, where $5,000 or $10,000 can make a tremendous difference in a whole community. We're financially stable. This year our budget is $35 million, with 80% from PIR and .org registrations across the world. The rest is from our members, various IETF events and other grants. We have offices in 14 countries, with our two main offices being in Geneva and just outside Washington, D.C., in Virginia. We will have 80 employees at the end of this year.

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