back to article .org owner Internet Society puts its money where its mouth is with additional IETF funding

The Internet Society has agreed to place the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) on a firmer footing with a six-year funding commitment. In a budget approved last week, and the details of which were revealed soon after, the non-profit agreed to supply the IETF with an annual contribution of $41.4m for the next six years. …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    "and a path to self-sufficiency."

    Is this a new definition of self-sufficiency that I don't know about, where you depend on a donor to hand you lots of money?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Compared to the previous model, where they had to ask for money every year, having an announced six-year funding plan is closer to self-sufficiency. Unless ISOC cancels the funding plan they announced, the IETF doesn't have to return to them and possibly get less money than they need because they angered the ISOC board. If the ISOC does cancel their announced funding plan, it will produce a large backlash among members and the general public. As we saw last time, ISOC views that concerted backlash as completely meaningless and will cheerfully ignore it, but still... there must be hope somewhere, right? Please?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Backlash amongst the general public? The general public has never heard of IETF or ISOC.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Hey, I served under General Public during the Browser Wars, and he usually seemed pretty informed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I quite liked the first album.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Hope ?

        We now live in an age where CEO's and other administrative and political responsibles reinterpret and decide what the rules are instead of following the charter that was written in black and white.

        ICANN started it (damn you to Hell for that, ICANN), and the rot has spread. Now, if an international body is headed by someone who is actually doing the job as intended, you can count yourself lucky.

        Hope ?

        Until those traitors are taken behind the chemical shed and shot, I don't have much.

    2. R Soul

      How else do you expect the IETF to be able to become self-sufficient? The commitment from ISOC will give the IETF the time and resources to become financially independent. That sort of thing is almost impossible when your day-to-day finances are unpredictable, managing cash-flow takes up too much time and the financial focus is finding the money to keep the lights on.

      The IETF currently has to budget one year at a time. That makes it very hard to do long-term financial planning or build up prudent reserves. These considerations get even harder when a pandemic has put an end to physical meetings for over a year. They're harder still when you have contracts with the venues who were hosting those meetings, some of which will still have to be paid for.

      Sponsorship and meeting fees are the IETF's only source of income besides ISOC's support. Iif not enough people show up, an IETF meeting will run at a loss and screw up the finances for a year or more.

      The IETF lost over $1M on the March meeting which had to be moved on-line at short notice. It's hard for most organisations to recover from a loss on that scale. It's harder still to do that and somehow break even by the end of the financial year.

  2. Yes Me Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Unusually high score...

    ... for misleading wording by Kieren.

    .org owner Internet Society
    No, actually the IANA function of ICANN "owns" top level domain names, i.e. has the final say as to who has the right to run the corresponding registry. ISOC sort-of owns the PIR corporation which has been assigned that registry right by IANA.
    But the subsequent financial reliance on ISOC, even though the IETF also raises money through sponsors and conference attendance fees, has not always resulted in a healthy dynamic.
    What is unhealthy about the relationship? I've tracked it since the beginning in 1992, and it's always been fine and productive.
    But those efforts continue apace, not least with China’s “New IP” proposal that would see more modern and efficient systems for networking management than the current TCP/IP approach. That proposed system would have clear advantages, but also have surveillance and control baked into it.
    First, it isn't "China's" anything, it's Huawei. If NewIP is China's, then the Web is Switzerland's. More to the point, it isn't yet at all clear that NewIP is well-defined, technically plausible, and economically feasible. There are those who think it is none of those things. Thirdly, what is specified so far neither supports nor contradicts the assertion about surveillance and control. All we've seen are a few empty words about the importance of security and privacy.
    Reform-ish

    That effort exists, albeit in a half-hearted fashion. The board created a new body to look at its governance... However, a culture is hard to change and the board has insisted on maintaining complete control of any proposed changes to its governance.

    The Board is still in the process of chartering a governance working group, to be precise. And it isn't a matter of the Board insisting on control of proposed changes; it's mandated by the Internet Society's by-laws, which require a four-fifths majority of the Board to approve by-law changes. The Internet Society is incorporated in the District of Columbia and can only act within the relevant D.C. law and the rules of the US tax system for non-profits, and of course that includes obeying its own by-laws.

    I would appreciate more care and accuracy in reporting in future.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Unusually high score...

      I must disagree with a few of your critiques.

      Article: ".org owner Internet Society"

      Reply: "No, actually the IANA function of ICANN "owns" top level domain names, i.e. has the final say as to who has the right to run the corresponding registry. ISOC sort-of owns the PIR corporation which has been assigned that registry right by IANA."

      The ISOC operates and controls PIR to the extent that they can command it to do things like sell off its prime asset, and the sale of that asset is permitted by ICANN. While your answer is technically correct, a place that can effectively manage an asset without many limits is not very different from an owner. If ICANN forbade the sale of a registry and reassigned it, or if PIR was only partially run by ISOC, I'd agree that the statement would have been misleading. As conditions are, I consider it an acceptable though imperfect summary.

      Article: "But the subsequent financial reliance on ISOC, even though the IETF also raises money through sponsors and conference attendance fees, has not always resulted in a healthy dynamic."

      Reply: "What is unhealthy about the relationship? I've tracked it since the beginning in 1992, and it's always been fine and productive."

      This is a statement of opinion, much like yours. I can't say this is at all misleading; if the author thinks that the IETF's reliance on ISOC for most or all of its funding makes it unhealthily dependent, then the point was effectively communicated. I'd like to see arguments from both of you as to the effects, positive or negative, of this relationship, but I at least know where you both stand.

      Article: "But those efforts continue apace, not least with China’s “New IP” proposal that would see more modern and efficient systems for networking management than the current TCP/IP approach. That proposed system would have clear advantages, but also have surveillance and control baked into it."

      Reply part 1: "First, it isn't "China's" anything, it's Huawei. If NewIP is China's, then the Web is Switzerland's."

      No, I'm afraid that's too limited. Here's a quote from the article introducing New IP: "Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) are backing a plan titled 'New IP, Shaping Future Network.'". Huawei is involved, but it's not just a suggestion by an interested company. The last item in that list is a government entity.

      Reply part 2: "More to the point, it isn't yet at all clear that NewIP is well-defined, technically plausible, and economically feasible. There are those who think it is none of those things. Thirdly, what is specified so far neither supports nor contradicts the assertion about surveillance and control. All we've seen are a few empty words about the importance of security and privacy."

      I agree with this chunk.

      Article: "That effort exists, albeit in a half-hearted fashion. The board created a new body to look at its governance... However, a culture is hard to change and the board has insisted on maintaining complete control of any proposed changes to its governance."

      Reply: "The Board is still in the process of chartering a governance working group, to be precise. And it isn't a matter of the Board insisting on control of proposed changes; it's mandated by the Internet Society's by-laws, which require a four-fifths majority of the Board to approve by-law changes. The Internet Society is incorporated in the District of Columbia and can only act within the relevant D.C. law and the rules of the US tax system for non-profits, and of course that includes obeying its own by-laws."

      You are correct here, but there are ways that a larger effort could be possible. ISOC members have protested recent actions by the board, so the board could perhaps attempt to replace some members by holding resignations and elections. If your members really wanted to change the structure of an organization, a representative board could easily do that. Or they could adopt a resolution stating that they would bind themselves to the results of the investigation, put those results to an election and support those which got supported, etc. Nobody's suggesting that the board can eliminate their own authority, but they could voluntarily give up some of it should they wish to indicate that they understand the complaints of members. They have chosen not to go that far, which may be a good idea, but still the possibility should be acknowledged.

  3. John L

    Reading comprehension

    The press release said $41M over six years which is about $7M/yr, not $41M per year. That is a rather large difference.

    Also, the statement that ISOC "has started down the path of replacing its CEO" is flatly false. What we have done is think about CEO succession if our CEO or other senior management were hired away or hit by a streetcar, which any sensible organization does.

  4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    This new phase is rather reminiscent of the old phase

    the internet enters a new phase where the underlying protocols and standards themselves are starting to change

    As opposed to that long period when no new RFCs were published, which happened ... never.

    Sure, there's this New IP noise. But there has always been noise, just as there have always been people reinventing TCP using UDP and all of the other "new" protocols some folks are excited about.

    IP has changed in the past - IPv6 is the obvious example, but even in v4 there were changes to protocol handling such as CIDR. TCP has changed: Path MTU, PAWS, window scaling, and so on. (Not a lot has happened to UDP, though there is ROHC.) The higher-level protocols change with wild abandon. We aren't entering a time where Internet protocols are "starting to change"; they've never stopped changing.

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