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What is the Internet Architecture Board?

By Kurt Inman
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Internet Architecture Board is a committee of professionals and researchers that oversees the technical development of the Internet. Also known by the acronym IAB, it can provide guidance and input on a broad range of net-related matters. Standards organizations, commercial entities and other institutions often use the IAB as a resource for network expertise.

Originally known as the Internet Configuration Control Board in 1979, the IAB has changed its name several times since. During the 1980s, it was called the Internet Advisory Board and later the Internet Activities Board. In 1992, it became the Internet Architecture Board as the Internet assumed more of a public and international nature.

Oversight of processes and task forces is a significant part of the responsibilities of the Internet Architecture Board. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in particular is closely linked with the IAB. Editorial management of the IETF's standards documents is handled by the IAB. IETF's interests related to the worldwide operation of the Internet are often represented to others through IAB-chosen liaisons. The IAB can also select or confirm the chairpersons and directors of several related groups and task forces.

The assignment of IETF network protocol parameters is supervised by the Internet Architecture Board. In general, the IAB oversees the Internet procedure and protocol architecture, as well as the standards process. Organizations can appeal to the IAB if they have issues with the way this process was handled for them by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). The IAB also advises the Internet Society (ISOC) on Internet and technology matters, including occasional policy recommendations.

The Internet Architecture Board frequently holds business and technical meetings, and its members are very active in a broad range of Internet-related issues. While it organizes groups to develop ideas and technical principles, the IAB usually doesn't create complete implementation proposals. Its purpose is generally to assist the IETF in improving the standardization of the Internet. The IAB is only occasionally involved in policy decisions and generally does not address commercial or operational aspects of the Internet. There are also many network standards and technologies, which the IAB leaves to unrelated organizations.

Most of the Internet Architecture Board members are nominated by the IETF. While many members work for network technology companies, they do not represent their employers on the IAB. Members often participate in many IETF working groups and related activities, but usually do not formally represent the IAB when they do so.

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