Internet Society

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Internet Society
Internet Society logo.png
FormationDecember 11, 1992; 27 years ago (1992-12-11)[1]
FoundersVint Cerf, Bob Kahn
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[2]
PurposeTo promote the open development, evolution, and use of the internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.[2]
HeadquartersReston, Virginia, U.S.[2]
Region served
Andrew Sullivan[3]
Gonzalo Camarillo[3]
SubsidiariesPublic Interest Registry (501(c)(3)),
Internet Society Asia Limited (Singapore)[2], Internet Society Foundation
Revenue (2018)
Expenses (2018)US$45,04,865[2]
EndowmentUS$42,970,000 (2018 - Internet Society Foundation), US$34,512,184 (2018 - cash holdings), US$1.13 billion (2019 - pending)
Employees (2018)
Volunteers (2018)

The Internet Society (ISOC) is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy. 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, United States and Geneva, Switzerland. Its motto is "The Internet is for Everyone".


The Internet Society is an independently-funded trust consisting of individual members, organizational members, and Chapters. Individual members do not get to vote determine policy, but organizational members are represented on an Advisory Council that can determine policy and the direction that the Internet Society will take. The function of the Internet Society's chapters is to execute their own plans where they align with Internet Society policies created by the Advisory Council, subject to approval and funding from the central body. The Internet Society has a large paid staff and is governed by a Board of Trustees. The board of trustees consists of 13 members. Four members are appointed by Internet Society chapters, four members are appointed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, and four members are appointed by organizational members of the Internet Society. In addition, the President and Chief Executive Officer serves ex officio.

Membership of the Internet Society has fluctuated over time. The Internet Society lost 40,000 members in 2018, and as of April 2020, the Internet Society indicates on its homepage that membership now stands at 67,978 members.


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 that could take over that 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. [4]. This arrangement was formalized in RFC1602 in 1993. [5]

In 1995[6] ISOC launched the annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS), which fosters information exchange among researchers and practitioners in associated fields.

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."

In 1999, the Internet Societal Task Force (ISTF)[7] was formed as a societal companion to the IETF and, through its efforts, in 2000 ISOC was recognized by UNESCO as an operational partner.[8]. The ISTF was disbanded at the end of 2001, and its functions taken over by ISOC's policy team.[9]

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 costing too much (at the time, the organization was in a dire financial situation). 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.[10]

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".

In 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.[11]

Following the success of World IPv6 Day in 2011, 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.[12] In subsequent years the event has been held in Inuvik, NWT [13], and Hilo, Hawaii.[14]

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.[15]

In 2018 the IETF began to become independent of the Internet Society by forming its own legal entity (IETF Administration LLC). The Internet Society has committed to making payments to the IETF until 2020 to help it build up an endowment and reserve fund, after which time it will be financially independent.

Support to United Nations Internet Governance Initiative[edit]

After four decades, the Internet has become a global tool that entered into everyone's life. This is the reason Antonio Guterres, the United Nations General Secretary has convened a High-Level panel of professional experts to discuss the future of the internet and the role of the internet in globalized digital cooperation. After several rounds of discussions and dialogue, the professional panel has proposed three models i.e. a Digital Commons Architecture (DCA), a Distributed Co-Governance Architecture (CoGov), and a reformed Internet Governance Forum (IGF+). Now the ISOC is leading and facilitating the multi-round meetings for Stakeholders’ Dialogue so as to collect, compile, and submit the inputs of the worldwide professionals and experts for future governance of the Internet.[16]


The Internet Society's current action plan[17] defines three strategic goals: Build, Promote, and Defend. These are further broken down into eight projects:

  1. Building community networks.
  2. Fostering infrastructure and technical communities.
  3. Measuring the Internet.
  4. Promoting the Internet way of networking.
  5. Securing global routing.
  6. Extending encryption.
  7. Increasing Time Security.
  8. Leading by example with open standards and protocols.


Sale of the Public Interest Registry[edit]

In 2019 the Internet Society agreed to the sale of 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.[18] 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 since it would have involved the transfer of what is viewed as a public asset to a private equity investment firm. [19] In late January 2020, 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.[20] 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.[21] On April 30th, 2020, ICANN rejected the proposal to sell PIR to Ethos Capital.[22][23]

Denial of Participation of Iranians in Activities[edit]

In September 2016, the Internet Society advised 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.[24] 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.


  1. ^ "The Internet Society and Internet History". Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "2016 Form 990 Filing: Internet Society" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. 2018-01-17. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  3. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  4. ^ Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Lyman Chapin (1992). "Announcing the Internet Society". Retrieved 15 December 2019.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Network and Distributed System Security Symposium".
  7. ^ "ISTF website (archived)". Archived from the original on 2000-06-21.
  8. ^ "UNESCO GRANTS THE INTERNET SOCIETY NGO OPERATIONAL RELATIONS STATUS". ISOC Bulgaria. December 1, 2000. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  9. ^ "Minutes of Board Meeting No. 25". Internet Society. December 9, 2001. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Internet Society and Digital Empowerment Foundation Launch Initiative To Bring the Next Billion Online". PR Newswire. 1 November 2010.
  11. ^ Jackson, William (February 6, 2012). "Internet Society launches info hub for DNSSEC, IPv6". Cybereye. GCN. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2017". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2018". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2019". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  15. ^ Leyden, John (5 April 2017). "Online Trust Alliance merges with Internet Society". The Register. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Internet Society 2020 Action Plan". Internet Society. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Advancing the Internet Society's Mission Into the Future". 30 November 2019.
  19. ^ Kieren McCarthy. "As pressure builds over .org sell-off, internet governance bodies fall back into familiar pattern: Silence". The Register. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "ICANN Board Withholds Consent for a Change of Control of the Public Interest Registry (PIR)". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  23. ^ "ICANN rejects sale of .org to for-profit investor group", Joseph Menn, Reuters, May 1, 2020.
  24. ^ Hill, Richard (16 September 2016). "FW: [Internet Policy] Internet Society is denying Iranians for participation in Internet Governance Forum". Chapter-delegates (Mailing list).

External links[edit]