Who’s in Charge of the Internet?

Ever wondered about the organizations that oversee the architecture and operation of the Internet? A recently published article provides an enlightening glimpse behind the scenes of the net’s governing bodies.

Most people with even a passing familiarity of the net would likely name ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as the organization that governs the whole show. Or, perhaps, the World Wide Web Consortium, headed up by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

These two organizations are indeed important and significantly influence many internet and web standards. But they’re just two of nearly a dozen organizations, societies, task forces and other groups that collectively work behind the scenes to assure the smooth functioning of the worlds largest network.

In A Concise Guide to the Major Internet Bodies, Alex Simonelis, a faculty member in the Computer Science Department of Dawson College in Montreal, Canada, offers succinct descriptions and histories of the major Internet governance organizations.

Simonelis writes, “Certain protocols, and the parameters required for their usage, are essential in order to operate on the Internet. A number of bodies have become responsible for those protocol standards and parameters. It can be fairly said that those bodies steer the Internet in a significant sense.

“The bodies belong to three major nexuses. Links, both formal and informal, exist between the nexuses.”

The first, Internet technological standards, are developed and set by the group consisting of the Internet Society (ISOC). ICANN, mentioned above, is responsible for Internet domain names and IP addresses. And world wide web standards are developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Simonelis provides concise overviews of all of these groups and their important subgroups. For each, he describes the organization, governance, membership, mission and goals, funding and associated bodies.

It’s a quick read, and provides an interesting overview of the organizations that work hard to make sure that we have open access to the Internet anywhere, whenever we want it.

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