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What is the Internet Society?

By Rolando Braza
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit international organization that helps guide the operation of the Internet. It provides direction on matters related to education, standards and policy. The goal of the Internet Society is to ensure and sustain an open environment in the Internet while working on its development for the benefit of people all over the world. As such, it spearheads and facilitates global programs that will aid the common good of the Internet community. Regional bureaus and local chapters are set up in different continents, including Africa, Asia, and North America, to achieve organizational efficiency and better serve the needs of global Internet users.

The undertakings of the Internet Society are guided by the principles of open, non-restricted and non-discriminatory use of the Internet. The society emphasizes self-regulation and encourages cooperation among network providers and users. It also recognizes and promotes respect for confidentiality of personal information. Accordingly, the society allows Internet users to freely encrypt their information and communication.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) enables the Internet Society to contribute in the continuous development of the Internet's open standard. IETF is responsible in formulating the vital standards of the Internet, such as those relating to Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and instant messaging. Other organizations linked to the IETF and collaborating with the society to address technical and other issues in the management of the Internet include the Internet Engineering and Steering Group, the Internet Architecture Board, and the Internet Research Task Force.

Membership to the Internet Society may be on an individual basis or as an organization. Individuals can join the society in either of the two membership categories: global or sustaining. Global affiliation is free of charge, while signing up as a sustaining member entails payment of annual membership dues. Individual members, regardless of category, enjoy the privilege of attending educational events and conferences; sustaining members, however, get the chance to elect one member of the society;s board of trustees.

Organizational members belong to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government offices, and other international institutions. They are taken in as members and belong to one of the six levels. The lowest level is for the small business member and has the lowest annual membership fee. The highest level is the platinum level and has the highest annual membership dues. Members, regardless of membership type and category, are encouraged by the Internet Society to be proactive in helping sustain and continually develop an open environment in the Internet.

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