RFC8712: The IETF-ISOC Relationship

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Obsoletes:  RFC2031
Related keywords:  (iasa)

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                      G. Camarillo
Request for Comments: 8712                                      Ericsson
Obsoletes: 2031                                             J. Livingood
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

Copyright Notice

   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
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) 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. References
     11.1.  Normative References
     11.2.  Informative References
   Authors' Addresses

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
   of programs.

   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
   [RFC4071] 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] states
   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] and
   [RFC8715], 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 of [RFC8711].

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.  References

11.1.  Normative References

   [RFC8711]  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,

   [RFC2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026, October 1996,

   [RFC2027]  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,

   [RFC2028]  Hovey, R. and S. Bradner, "The Organizations Involved in
              the IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2028, October 1996,

   [RFC2031]  Huizer, E., "IETF-ISOC relationship", RFC 2031,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2031, October 1996,

   [RFC2850]  Internet Architecture Board and B. Carpenter, Ed.,
              "Charter of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)",
              BCP 39, RFC 2850, DOI 10.17487/RFC2850, May 2000,

   [RFC3677]  Daigle, L., Ed. and Internet Architecture Board, "IETF
              ISOC Board of Trustee Appointment Procedures", BCP 77,
              RFC 3677, DOI 10.17487/RFC3677, December 2003,

   [RFC4071]  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,

   [RFC4371]  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>.

   [RFC5378]  Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
              Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5378, November 2008,

   [RFC6756]  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,

   [RFC8713]  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,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8713, February 2020,

   [RFC8714]  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,

   [RFC8715]  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, February
              2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8715>.


   The authors would like to thank Erik Huizer for his contribution as
   the author of [RFC2031], which this document replaces.

Authors' Addresses

   Gonzalo Camarillo

   Email: Gonzalo.Camarillo@ericsson.com

   Jason Livingood

   Email: jason_livingood@comcast.com