3.2 Protocols

I rapporti storici e funzionali tra ISOC e IETF
Historic and functional relationship between ISOC and IETF
Claudio Allocchio
  • IETF was born in January 1986 as a very small group (21 people) of researchers who met in San Diego (California) under the original name of "DARPA - Gateway Algorithms and Data Structures Task Force"; this name was changed at that meeting into IETF for the first time.
  • Unitil 1990 activities ran as an informal group of experts which published informal "Requests For Comments" (RFCs), whose implementaion was then accomplished inside programmes and devices avaialble on the network.
  • As a "formal organisational structure" was missing, a number of practical-administrative-legal problems started to happen to IETF activities, and in the early '90s they became quite evident.
  • Besides logistics activities (to make IETF work more and more people were needed, an administration, a financial office, somebody to negotiate with hosting sites), also intellectual property rights handling in an appropriate way was needed.
  • Furthermore, we needed an organisation capable of spreading the cutural use of the network (at that time it was still an aggregate of technologically different neworks, not only running TCP/IP) beyond scientific institutions, and also inside social life.
  • IETF was the technical branch only, and was unable to take care of these activities, too. Hence the decistion to use the clear need for an IETF parent organisation also to do something more, and to look forward.
  • It was thus a "social decision", born by combining various peoples' ideas, with Vint Cerf leading the group, sponsored also by the need to find a meeting forum between the network users, not limited to netwrok engineers, but also to bring the newtwork to other users, and to be able to talk about the network with political and financial organisations.
  • Talking formally with other oganisations (ITU for example) needed a legal-formal body which operated as the IETF "hat".
  • ISOC, in 1992, made this happen, and also started the diffusion of the Internet culture we previously described. ISOC did not started silently like IETF: the preparation was careful and accurate, and the first event, INET92 conference, was very well organised, as any other "large international conference": even if IETF attendees in 1992 were no more than 600 people, at the conference many more people showed up.
  • Formally, IETF is a technical working group by ISOC, where participation is completely open and "individual" (everyone just represents himself and his ideas, not those of any group, employer or others), and where individual's work contribution is given "in favour of ISOC and for the open community".
  • Registering to take part to an IETF meeting automatically means to accept this rule, and to tranfer the rights of one owns ideas and actions to ISOC.
  • Thus, the RFC copyright, but also of the proceedings, of the discussion minutes etc, belongs to ISOC, which then makes them openly available to anybody. ISOC provides IETF various services:
    • logistic/support to organise both meetings and daily operations (mailing lists, web sites, work tools, etc). ISOC also supply the administrative personnell needed to make IETF work.
    • legal/institutional role, to handle the intellectual property rights of the IETF results, to protect copyright (sometimed we ended up in font of a court to disentagle problems about some specification which were claimed private, even if they were made at IETF, or to settle trademarks problems).
  • ISOC is also the legal body who signs releationships/MOUs/contracts with the other world organisations, ITU for example, and it does it on behalf of IETF, which is legally non-esistant, and cannot do it.
  • In one sentence: ISOC run as legal father of IETF.
Happy Birthday ISOC