Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) G. Camarillo
Request for Comments: 8712
Category: Informational Comcast
ISSN: 2070-1721 February 2020
The IETF-ISOC Relationship
This document summarizes the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) -
Internet Society (ISOC) relationship, following a major revision to
the structure of the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA) in
2018. The IASA was revised under a new "IASA 2.0" structure by the
IASA2 Working Group, which changed the IETF's administrative, legal,
and financial structure. As a result, it also changed the
relationship between the IETF and ISOC, which made it necessary to
revise RFC 2031
Status of This Memo
This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
published for informational purposes.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Not all documents
approved by the IESG are candidates for any level of Internet
Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 7841
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8712
Copyright (c) 2020 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
) in effect on the date of
publication of this document. Please review these documents
carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
to this document. Code Components extracted from this document must
include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
described in the Simplified BSD License.
Table of Contents 1.
Introduction and History 2.
Philosophical Relationship with ISOC 3.
Main Division of Responsibilities between IETF and ISOC 4.
ISOC's Role in the IETF Standards Process 5.
The IETF's Role in ISOC 6.
Legal Relationship with ISOC 7.
Financial and Administrative Relationship with ISOC 8.
IANA Considerations 9.
Security Considerations 10.
Privacy Considerations 11.
Normative References 11.2.
1. Introduction and History
The Internet Society provides a corporate home for the administrative
entity that supports the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the
Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet Research Task
Force (IRTF), and supports the work of these groups through a variety
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the body that is
responsible for the development and maintenance of the Internet
Standards. The IETF is primarily a volunteer organization. Its
driving force is a group of dedicated, high-quality engineers from
all over the world. In a structure of working groups, these
engineers exchange ideas and experience, and through discussion and
collaboration (both electronically and face-to-face), they strive to
achieve rough consensus and implement the standards through running
The growth of the Internet over several decades has also led to the
growth of the IETF. More and more people, organizations, and
companies rely on Internet Standards. Nontechnical issues, such as
legal, administrative, and financial issues had long been an
undesirable but unavoidable part of the IETF. To address these
issues, the IETF established the Poised95 Working Group in 1995. Its
goal was to structure and document the IETF processes in order to
maximize the flexibility and freedom of IETF engineers so that they
could work in the way the IETF had always been most successful and to
honor the IETF credo: "Rough consensus and running code".
The Poised95 Working Group concluded that the Internet Society
(ISOC), which was formed in 1992, was the best organization to handle
all of these legal, administrative, and financial tasks on behalf of,
and in close cooperation with, the IETF. This led to documenting
things such as the IETF standards process [RFC2026
], the IETF
organizational structure [RFC2028
], the IETF Nominating Committee
(NomCom) procedures [RFC2027
], and the IETF-ISOC relationship
As time passed and operational experience accumulated, additional
structure was necessary. As a result, the Internet Administrative
Support Activity (IASA) was defined in 2005 and documented in
] and [RFC4371
In 2018, the IASA was revised under a new "IASA 2.0" structure by the
IASA2 Working Group, which made significant revisions to the IETF's
administrative, legal, and financial structure. One critical outcome
was the formation, in close cooperation between the IETF and ISOC, of
the IETF Administration Limited Liability Company (IETF LLC) as a
subsidiary of ISOC.
As a result of the IASA 2.0 structure [RFC8711
] and formation of the
IETF LLC, the relationship between the IETF and ISOC has changed.
This document summarizes the current state of the IETF-ISOC
relationship at a high level and replaces [RFC2031
2. Philosophical Relationship with ISOC
ISOC and the IETF have historically been philosophically aligned.
ISOC's connection with the IETF community has always played an
important role in its policy work, which has not changed. ISOC has
always been and continues to be an advocate for multistakeholder
processes, which includes the technical community. Open standards
are an explicit part of one of the focus areas in ISOC's mission:
advancing the development and application of Internet infrastructure,
technologies, and open standards [ISOC-Mission].
3. Main Division of Responsibilities between IETF and ISOC
The IETF remains responsible for the development and quality of the
Internet Standards. Apart from the roles described below, the IETF
and ISOC acknowledge that ISOC as an organization has no direct
influence whatsoever on the technical content of Internet Standards
(though ISOC employees may independently continue to make technical
contributions as individuals).
4. ISOC's Role in the IETF Standards Process
ISOC plays a small role in the IETF standards process. In
particular, ISOC assists the standards process by appointing the IETF
NomCom chair and by confirming IAB candidates who are put forward by
the IETF NomCom, as described in [RFC8713
], and by acting as the last
resort in the appeals process, as described in [RFC2026
ISOC maintains liaison relationships and memberships in other
Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and related organizations,
which directly benefits the IETF. For example, ISOC is a Sector
Member of the ITU-T. As a result, ISOC delegates are afforded the
same rights as other ITU-T Sector Members [RFC6756
ISOC also supports the IETF standards process indirectly (e.g., by
promoting it in relevant communities) through several programs. For
example, ISOC's Policymakers Programme to the IETF (usually referred
to simply as ISOC's IETF Policy Program) gives policy experts an
opportunity to interact directly with the IETF technical community.
ISOC also performs technical work using the standards developed in
the IETF as its basis. An example of that is ISOC's work in
encouraging and supporting the deployment of IETF standards.
Otherwise, the involvement of ISOC's employees in the IETF standards
process (e.g., as document editors or in leadership positions) is as
individual contributors rather than on institutional grounds.
5. The IETF's Role in ISOC
The IETF plays a role in the governance of ISOC. Per ISOC's bylaws,
the IETF appoints a set of trustees to the ISOC Board. The process
by which the IETF makes those appointments is defined in [RFC3677
The charter of the IAB (Internet Architecture Board) [RFC2850
that "the IAB acts as a source of advice and guidance to the Board of
Trustees and Officers of the Internet Society concerning technical,
architectural, procedural, and (where appropriate) policy matters
pertaining to the Internet and its enabling technologies". This
connection between the IAB and ISOC ensures that ISOC's proposals in
the policy area are based on a sound understanding of the relevant
technologies and architectures. ISOC's strong connection to the
Internet technical community has always been one of its main
6. Legal Relationship with ISOC
The IETF LLC is a disregarded Limited Liability Company (LLC) of the
Internet Society that was established to provide a corporate legal
framework for facilitating current and future activities related to
the IETF, IAB, and IRTF. It was established by the ISOC / IETF LLC
Agreement [OpAgreement] on August 27, 2018, and governs the
relationship between the IETF LLC and ISOC.
The IETF Trust, documented in [RFC5378
], and updated in [RFC8714
], provides legal protection for the RFC Series of documents
and other aspects of the IETF. This includes things such as
protection for trademarks, copyrights, and intellectual property
rights. As part of the IETF Trust arrangement, IETF standards
documents can be freely downloaded, copied, and distributed without
financial or other distribution restrictions, though all rights to
change these documents lie with the IETF. The IETF Trust also
provides legal protection in case of disputes over intellectual
property rights and other rights. The creation of the IETF LLC has
changed the way that the IETF Trust's trustees are selected but did
not change the purpose or operation of the Trust. One of the IETF
Trust's trustees is appointed by the ISOC's Board of Trustees.
7. Financial and Administrative Relationship with ISOC
Under the terms of the Operating Agreement [OpAgreement] between ISOC
and the IETF, ISOC has agreed to provide significant funding support
for the IETF. In addition, the IETF LLC is responsible for creating
and managing an annual operating budget for the IETF; for
negotiating, signing, and overseeing contracts; for fundraising; for
maintaining bank accounts; and for liability insurance. The IETF LLC
is managed by a Board of Directors, one of whom is appointed by the
ISOC's Board of Trustees. The intention is that ISOC and the IETF
LLC operate at arm's length.
The IETF LLC establishes contracts with third parties to provide
different types of services to the IETF. Note that it is possible
that some of those services may be provided by ISOC or involve ISOC
Under the new IASA 2.0 structure, the IETF LLC is solely responsible
for its administration, including the IETF Trust, IAB, IESG, IETF
working groups, and other IETF processes. A further exploration of
this can be found in Section 4
8. IANA Considerations
This document has no IANA actions.
9. Security Considerations
This document introduces no new security considerations.
10. Privacy Considerations
This document introduces no new privacy considerations.
11.1. Normative References
] Haberman, B., Hall, J., and J. Livingood, "Structure of
the IETF Administrative Support Activity, Version 2.0",
BCP 101, RFC 8711
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8711
, February 2020,
11.2. Informative References
Internet Society, "Internet Society Mission",
"Limited Liability Company Agreement of IETF
Administration LLC", August 2018,
] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
3", BCP 9, RFC 2026
, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026
, October 1996,
] Galvin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and
Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall
Committees", RFC 2027
, DOI 10.17487/RFC2027
, October 1996,
] Hovey, R. and S. Bradner, "The Organizations Involved in
the IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028
, October 1996,
] Huizer, E., "IETF-ISOC relationship", RFC 2031
, October 1996,
] Internet Architecture Board and B. Carpenter, Ed.,
"Charter of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)",
BCP 39, RFC 2850
, DOI 10.17487/RFC2850
, May 2000,
] Daigle, L., Ed. and Internet Architecture Board, "IETF
ISOC Board of Trustee Appointment Procedures", BCP 77, RFC 3677
, DOI 10.17487/RFC3677
, December 2003,
] Austein, R., Ed. and B. Wijnen, Ed., "Structure of the
IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA)", BCP 101, RFC 4071
, DOI 10.17487/RFC4071
, April 2005,
] Carpenter, B., Ed. and L. Lynch, Ed., "BCP 101 Update for
IPR Trust", BCP 101, RFC 4371
, DOI 10.17487/RFC4371
January 2006, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4371
] Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378
, November 2008,
] Trowbridge, S., Ed., Lear, E., Ed., Fishman, G., Ed., and
S. Bradner, Ed., "Internet Engineering Task Force and
International Telecommunication Union - Telecommunication
Standardization Sector Collaboration Guidelines", RFC 6756
, DOI 10.17487/RFC6756
, September 2012,
] Kucherawy, M., Ed., Hinden, R., Ed., and J. Livingood,
Ed., "IAB, IESG, IETF Trust, and IETF LLC Selection,
Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the IETF
Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP 10, RFC 8713
, February 2020,
] Arkko, J. and T. Hardie, "Update to the Process for
Selection of Trustees for the IETF Trust", BCP 101, RFC 8714
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8714
, February 2020,
] Arkko, J., "IETF Administrative Support Activity 2.0:
Update to the Process for Selection of Trustees for the
IETF Trust", RFC 8715
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8715
The authors would like to thank Erik Huizer for his contribution as
the author of [RFC2031
], which this document replaces.