Internet Society

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Internet Society
FormationDecember 11, 1992; 29 years ago (1992-12-11)[1]
FoundersVint Cerf, Bob Kahn
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[2]
PurposeInternet development, infrastructure, accessibility and standards
HeadquartersReston, Virginia, U.S.[3]
Region served
80,000+ (August 2021)[4][non-primary source needed]
Andrew Sullivan[5]
Ted Hardie[5]
Revenue (2018)
Expenses (2018)US$45,104,865[3]
Employees (2018)
Volunteers (2018)
4,099 (IETF, IESG, IAB, IRTF)[3][7]

The Internet Society (ISOC) is an American nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1992 with local chapters around the world. Its mission is "to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world." It has offices in Reston, Virginia, U.S., and Geneva, Switzerland.


The Internet Society has regional bureaus worldwide,[8] composed of chapters, organizational members,[9] and, as of July 2020, more than 70,000 individual members.[4] The Internet Society has a staff of more than 100 and was governed by a board of trustees, whose members are appointed or elected by the society's chapters, organization members, and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).[10][11] The IETF comprised the Internet Society's volunteer base.[12] Its leadership includes Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ted Hardie; and President and CEO, Andrew Sullivan.[13][14]

The Internet Society created the Public Interest Registry (PIR),[15] launched the Internet Hall of Fame,[16] and served as the organizational home of the IETF.[9] The Internet Society Foundation was created in 2017 as its independent philanthropic arm,[17] which awarded grants to organizations.[18]


In 1991, the NSF contract with the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) to operate the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) expired. The then Internet Activities Board (IAB) sought to create a non-profit institution which could take over the role. In 1992 Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and Lyman Chapin announced the formation of the Internet Society as "a professional society to facilitate, support, and promote the evolution and growth of the Internet as a global research communications infrastructure," which would incorporate the IAB, the IETF, and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), plus the organization of the annual INET meetings.[19] This arrangement was formalized in RFC1602 in 1993.[20]

In 1999, after Jon Postel's death, ISOC established the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award. The award has been presented every year since 1999 by the Internet Society to "honor a person who has made outstanding contributions in service to the data communications community."

By mid-2000, the Internet Society's finances became precarious, and several individuals and organizations stepped forward to fill the gap. Until 2001, there were also trustees elected by individual members of the Internet Society. Those elections were "suspended" in 2001. This was ostensibly done as a fiscal measure due to the perception that the elections were too expensive for the precarious financial state of the organization. In later Bylaw revisions, the concept of individual member-selected trustees went from "suspended" to being deleted altogether

In late 2001, leaders from Afilias (a domain name registry) approached the Internet Society CEO Lynn St.Amour, to propose a novel partnership to jointly bid for the .org registry. In this model, the Internet Society would become the new home of .org, and all technical and service functions would be managed by Afilias. Afilias would pay for all bid expenses and would contribute towards the Internet Society payroll while the bid was under consideration by ICANN. The Internet Society Board approved this proposal at their Board meeting in 2001.

In 2002 ISOC successfully bid for the .org registry and formed the Public Interest Registry (PIR), to manage and operate it.

In 2010, ISOC launched its first community network initiative to deploy five wireless mesh based networks in rural locations across India.[21]

In 2012, on ISOC's 20th anniversary, it established the Internet Hall of Fame, an award to "publicly recognize a distinguished and select group of visionaries, leaders, and luminaries who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the global Internet".

On June 8, 2011, ISOC mounted World IPv6 Day to test IPv6 deployment.

In 2012 ISOC launched Deploy360, a portal and training program to promote IPv6 and DNSSEC.[22]

On June 6, 2012, ISOC organized the World IPv6 Launch, this time with the intention of leaving IPv6 permanently enabled on all participating sites.

In 2016 Deploy 360 extended its campaigns to include Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) and DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE).

In 2017 ISOC's North America Region launched an annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit with an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[23] In subsequent years the event has been held in Inuvik, NWT,[24] and Hilo, Hawaii.[25]

In December 2017 ISOC absorbed standards body Online Trust Alliance (OTA) which produces an annual Online Trust Audit, a Cyber Incident Response Guide, and an Internet of Things (IoT) Trust Framework.[26]

In August 2018 the Internet Society organized the IETF more formally as the IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC) underneath ISOC.[27] The IETF LLC continues to be closely associated with ISOC and is significantly funded by ISOC.

Support to United Nations Internet Governance Initiative[edit]

The ubiquity of the Internet in modern-day society has prompted António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General to convene a panel of professional experts to discuss the future of the Internet and the role of the Internet in globalized digital cooperation. Three models were proposed after several rounds of discussion, i.e. a Digital Commons Architecture (DCA), a Distributed Co-Governance Architecture (CoGov), and a reformed Internet Governance Forum (IGF+). As of October 2020, the ISOC is leading and facilitating the multi-round meetings for Stakeholders’ Dialogue to collect, compile, and submit the inputs of the worldwide professionals and experts for future governance of the Internet.[28]


In the late 1990s, the Internet Society established the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award.[29] It was presented every year to honor a person who has made outstanding contributions in service to the data communications community.

The Internet Society's activities included MANRS (Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security) - which was launched in 2014 to provide crucial fixes to reduce the most common threats to the Internet's routing infrastructure.[30]

The society organized the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to help grow the Internet infrastructure in Africa and hosts Internet development conferences in developing markets.[31][32]

The society offered Deploy360, an information hub, portal and training program to promote IPv6 and DNSSEC.[22]

In 2017 it launched an annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit to connect tribal communities, starting with an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In subsequent years the event was held in Inuvik, NWT, and Hilo, Hawaii.[33][34]

The society also publishes reports on global Internet issues,[35] and created tools, surveys, codes, and policy recommendations to improve Internet use.[36][37][38] The society supports projects to build community networks and infrastructure, secure routing protocols, and advocate for end-to-end encryption.[39][9][40]


Sale of the Public Interest Registry[edit]

In 2019 the Internet Society agreed to the sale of the Public Interest Registry to Ethos Capital for $1.135 billion, a transaction initially expected to be completed in early 2020. The Internet Society said it planned to use the proceeds to fund an endowment.[41] The Public Interest Registry is a non-profit subsidiary of the Internet Society which operates three top-level domain names (.ORG, .NGO, and .ONG), all of which have traditionally focused on serving the non-profit and non-governmental organization communities.

The sale was met with significant opposition due to involving the transfer of what is viewed as a public asset to a private equity investment firm.[42] In late January 2020, the ICANN halted its final approval of the sale after the Attorney General of California requested detailed documentation from all parties, citing concerns that both ICANN and the Internet Society had potentially violated their public interest missions as registered charities subject to the laws of California.[43] In February, the Internet Society's Chapter Advisory Council (which represents its membership) began the process to adopt a motion rejecting the sale if certain conditions were not complied with.[44] On April 30, 2020, ICANN rejected the proposal to sell the PIR to Ethos Capital.[45][46]

Denial of participation of Iranians in activities[edit]

In September 2016, the Internet Society indicated that it would not seek to obtain a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury that would allow it to fund the activities of Iranian nationals.[47] This caused considerable distress to ISOC members in Iran, who were thus unable to launch an Internet Society chapter in Iran, and saw a fellowship revoked that the Internet Society had awarded to fund the travel of Iranian student to visit the Internet Governance Forum in Mexico.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Internet Society and Internet History". Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  2. ^ a b "2016 Form 990 Filing: Internet Society" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. 2018-01-17. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  3. ^ a b c d "2018 Form 990" (PDF). Form 990. 2019. p. 1. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Internet Society". Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  6. ^ "2018 Form 990" (PDF). Form 990. 2019. p. 78. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  7. ^ "Internet Society Form 990: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Internet Society. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Duffy Marsan, Carolyn (March 26, 2012). "Internet Society celebrates 20 years of standards, advocacy". Network World. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Higgins, Kelly Jackson (June 1, 2017). "Internet Society Takes On IoT, Website Security, Incident Response via OTA Merger". Dark Reading. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  10. ^ "Meet the Team". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  11. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved Oct 4, 2020.
  12. ^ "Internet Society Form 990: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Internet Society. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  13. ^ "Domain Wars: Nonprofit .Org Addresses Could Soon Belong To A For-Profit Company". On Point by WBUR-FM. January 21, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Finley, Klint (February 4, 2020). "Who Should Control the Internet's .Org Addresses?". Wired. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  15. ^ McCarthy, Kieran (November 29, 2019). "Internet Society CEO: Most people don't care about the .org sell-off – and nothing short of a court order will stop it". The Register. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Asmelash, Leah (September 27, 2019). "Larry Irving is the first African American inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame". CNN. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  17. ^ McCarthy, Kieren (December 3, 2019). "Internet Society says opportunity to sell .org to private equity biz for $1.14bn came out of the blue. Wow, really?". The Register. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  18. ^ "A Grant Will Help a Tribal-Owned and Managed ISP Better Bridge the Digital Divide". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  19. ^ Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Lyman Chapin (1992). "Announcing the Internet Society". Retrieved 15 December 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Internet Engineering Steering Group; Internet Architecture Board. "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 2". Retrieved Oct 4, 2020.
  21. ^ "Internet Society and Digital Empowerment Foundation Launch Initiative To Bring the Next Billion Online". PR Newswire. 1 November 2010.
  22. ^ a b Jackson, William (February 6, 2012). "Internet Society launches info hub for DNSSEC, IPv6". Cybereye. GCN. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2017". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2018". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  25. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2019". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  26. ^ Leyden, John (5 April 2017). "Online Trust Alliance merges with Internet Society". The Register. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Limited Liability Company Agreement of IETF Administration LLC" (PDF). Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  28. ^ "IGF 2020". Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  29. ^ Vint Cerf (October 1998). "I remember IANA". RFC 2468. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  30. ^ Higgins, Kelly Jackson (August 13, 2019). "Internet Routing Security Initiative Launches Online 'Observatory'". Dark Reading. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  31. ^ Batambuze III, Ephraime (March 30, 2016). "The Internet Society brings African Peering and Interconnection Forum to Tanzania for first time". PC Tech Magazine. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  32. ^ "Forum to propose how to build the internet ecosystem in Ethiopia". Aptantech. February 29, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  33. ^ Scott, Mackenzie (October 12, 2018). "'Inuvik is a community the world can learn from': Rural internet hot topic at summit". CBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  34. ^ Valleau, Natalie (November 27, 2019). "Calgary grad student helps bring internet to remote Hawaiian community". CBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  35. ^ Deb, Sandipan (April 2, 2019). "The Internet @ 30: Big hope to big bother". Mint. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  36. ^ Feldstein, Steven (June 13, 2019). "To end mass protests, Sudan has cut off Internet access nationwide. Here's why". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  37. ^ Molla, Rani (May 13, 2019). "People say they care about privacy but they continue to buy devices that can spy on them". Vox Media. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  38. ^ Zurier, Steve (January 25, 2019). "Internet Society to Issue Privacy Code of Conduct". Dark Reading. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  39. ^ Gilbert, David (January 24, 2020). "3 Billionaire Republican Families Are About to Buy the Dot-Org Domain. That's Terrifying Nonprofits". Vice Media. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  40. ^ Singh, Manish (January 9, 2020). "Over two dozen encryption experts call on India to rethink changes to its intermediary liability rules". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  41. ^ Andrew Sullivan (29 November 2019). "Advancing the Internet Society's Mission Into the Future". Archived from the original on 2019-12-16.
  42. ^ Kieren McCarthy. "As pressure builds over .org sell-off, internet governance bodies fall back into familiar pattern: Silence". The Register. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  43. ^ at 21:24, Thomas Claburn in San Francisco 31 Jan 2020. "ICANN't approve the sale of .org to private equity – because California's Attorney General has... concerns". Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  44. ^ at 07:12, Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 19 Feb 2020. "Now Internet Society told to halt controversial .org sale… by its own advisory council: 'You misread the community mindset around dot-org'". Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  45. ^ "ICANN Board Withholds Consent for a Change of Control of the Public Interest Registry (PIR)". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  46. ^ "ICANN rejects sale of .org to for-profit investor group", Joseph Menn, Reuters, May 1, 2020.
  47. ^ Hill, Richard (16 September 2016). "FW: [Internet Policy] Internet Society is denying Iranians for participation in Internet Governance Forum". Chapter-delegates (Mailing list).

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