© Internet Society / Nyani Quarmyne

The Internet Society is a global cause-driven organization governed by a diverse Board of Trustees that is dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by you. 

We are the world's trusted independent source of leadership for Internet policy, technology standards, and future development. More than simply advancing technology, we work to ensure the Internet continues to grow and evolve as a platform for innovation, economic development, and social progress for people around the world.

With offices around the world, we work to ensure that the Internet and the web that is built on it:

Continues to develop as an open platform that empowers people to share ideas and connect in new and innovative ways

Serves the economic, social, and educational needs of individuals throughout the world – today and in the future

 

Cause-Driven

The Internet Society is a cause-driven organization. While the Internet Society is not a membership-driven organization, we have a growing number of members and Chapters. The articles of incorporation, bylaws, and behavior of the Internet Society have been, are, and are expected to remain that of a cause-based organization. Because of our compelling cause, a growing number of Chapters and members have chosen to join the Internet Society to share our mission and to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.

Partnerships and Expertise

Backed by more than 80,000 members and supporters, 113 Chapters around the world, as well as more than 143 Organization members, the Internet Society achieves change through partnership and expertise in policy, technology and communications. 

By working with a range of partners from non-profit agencies, local and global NGOs, academia, technologists, local councils, federal policy and decision makers, business and more, we want to make sure that your voice, expertise, and imagination can continue to develop one of the greatest tools of our lifetime.

 

Mission

 

© iStock Photo / Internet Society

By connecting the world, working with others, and advocating for equal access to the Internet, the Internet Society strives to make the world a better place.

At the foundation of our work are a vision and a mission.

Vision

The Internet is for everyone.

 

Mission

To promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.

To help achieve our mission, the Internet Society:

  • Facilitates open development of standards, protocols, administration, and the technical infrastructure of the Internet.
  • Supports education in developing countries specifically, and wherever the need exists.
  • Promotes professional development and builds community to foster participation and leadership in areas important to the evolution of the Internet.
  • Provides reliable information about the Internet.
  • Provides forums for discussion of issues that affect Internet evolution, development and use in technical, commercial, societal, and other contexts.
  • Fosters an environment for international cooperation, community, and a culture that enables self-governance to work.
  • Serves as a focal point for cooperative efforts to promote the Internet as a positive tool to benefit all people throughout the world.
  • Provides management and coordination for on-strategy initiatives and outreach efforts in humanitarian, educational, societal, and other contexts.

With these strategic underpinnings in place, the Internet Society has identified and undertaken a number of projects to demonstrate its commitment to the mission. Many of these have been initiated by Chapters or as a result of individual and organisational member desires. Others have been undertaken through the efforts of the Trustees, and Internet Society staff in Reston, Geneva, and around the globe.

 

Values and Principles

 

© iStockPhoto / Internet Society

Core Values

The quality of life for people in all parts of the world is enhanced by their ability to enjoy the benefits of an open and global Internet.

Well-informed individuals and public and private policy makers are the essential foundation of an open and global Internet society.

The genius of the Internet is that its decentralized architecture maximizes individual users’ power to choose (or create) and use the hardware, software, and services that best meet their needs, and if the Internet is to continue to be a platform for innovation and creativity, its open, decentralized nature must be preserved.

Enduring and sustainable progress toward our vision is best achieved by a combination of global initiatives and activities at a local level that engage people in their home regions.

Technical standards and Internet operating procedures should be developed and asserted through open and transparent processes, with minimal barriers to participation or access to information.

The social, political, and economic benefits of the Internet are substantially diminished by excessively restrictive governmental or private controls on computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or Internet content.

Rewarding and productive use of the Internet depends on the ability to trust critical services.

Principles That Guide Our Work

The Ability to Connect. The edge-dominant end-to-end architecture of the Internet is essential to its utility as a platform for innovation, creativity, and economic opportunity. To preserve this quality, we will oppose efforts to establish standards or practices that would make it difficult or impossible for some users of the Internet to use the full range of Internet applications of all kinds.

The Ability to Speak. The Internet is a powerful mass medium for self-expression which depends on the ability of its users to speak freely. We believe that the Internet must support private—and, where appropriate, anonymous—means of communication and collaboration among individuals and groups, and will oppose efforts to restrict the type or content of information exchanged on the Internet.

The Ability to Innovate. The remarkable growth of the Internet and the limitless variety of Internet applications follow directly from the open model of Internet connectivity and standards development. Any individual, organization, or company can develop and distribute a new Internet application that can be used by anyone. We recognize the enormous value of this innovation, and oppose governmental or nongovernmental restrictions on the evolution and use of Internet technology.

The Ability to Share. The many-to-many architecture of the Internet makes it a powerful tool for sharing, education, and collaboration. It has enabled the global open source community to develop and enhance many of the key components of the Internet, such as the Domain Name System and the World-Wide Web, and has made the vision of digital libraries a reality. To preserve these benefits we will oppose technologies and legislation that would inhibit the freedom to develop and use open source software or limit the well-established concept of fair use, which is essential to scholarship, education, and collaboration.

The Ability to Choose. Government regulation and the economic power of incumbent telecommunication monopolies can delay or prevent the growth of the Internet by limiting the ability of competitors to provide new, better, cheaper, or more innovative Internet-related services. We advocate policies that promote competition in telecommunications, Internet services, Internet-related software, and e-commerce applications.

The Ability to Trust. Everyone’s ability to connect, speak, innovate, share, and choose depends on the Internet’s ability to support trustworthy internetworking—ensuring the security, reliability, and stability of increasingly critical and pervasive applications and services.

 

Strategic Objectives

 

1. Facilitate and promote global, regional, and local policy environments that enable the continuing evolution of an open Internet.

2. Increase the global relevance and recognition of collaborative, bottom-up,technical, consensus-based open standards development in order to protect permissionless innovation for the availability of the open Internet for current and future users; and increase development and use of security and resiliency technologies and best practices, shape the evolution of online identity infrastructures, and improve choice and consent in the handling of user data.

3. Provide equal development opportunities for all people by promoting the relevance, deployment, and adoption of the open Internet.

4. Increase the visibility and influence of the Internet Society as the recognized, trusted source on Internet issues

To effectively accomplish these Strategic Objectives, we must at the same time continue to improve and develop the Internet Society organization and community themselves. Internally-focused Operational Objectives provide important complements to our outwardly-oriented Strategic Objectives and action plans.

Through our Operational Objectives, we aim to ensure that the Internet Society organization and community have the tools, energy, and culture necessary to most effectively advance our mission. 

They are to:

Create an environment that allows ISOC to use the Internet to gather real data and experiences, capitalizes on our diverse communities, and delivers messages and tools to our audiences

Mobilize and energize our staff, emerging leaders, past and present ISOC Members, and other identified ISOC stakeholders to leverage and expand our outreach on an inclusive local, regional, and global scale to advance our mission.

Nurture a culture that mirrors the Internet attributes we wish to emulate—a team-oriented culture that values openness/inclusivity, global and cultural diversity, honesty, trust and collaboration. We look to be focused, forward thinking, flexible and dynamic within an environment where decision-making is transparent and accountability is maintained “

 

What We Do

 

The Internet Society engages in a wide spectrum of Internet issues, including policy, governance, technology, and development. We establish and promote principles that are intended to persuade governments to make decisions that are right for their citizens and each nation’s future. Everything we do is based on ensuring that a healthy, sustainable Internet is available to everyone – today and for the next billion users.

Our Work

Championing public policies that enable open access

Facilitating the open development of standards, protocols, administration, and the technical infrastructure of the Internet

Organizing events and opportunities that bring people together to share insights and opinions. 

Education & Leadership

Providing reliable information and educational opportunities that include training workshops in developing countries 

Facilitating leadership programmes that include the cultivation of Next Generation Leaders and Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Ambassadors

Supporting local Chapters that serve the needs of the growing global Internet community

Grants & Awards

Encouraging innovation and fresh thinking by providing grants and awards to relevant initiatives and outreach efforts that address the humanitarian, educational, and societal contexts of online connectivity

Acknowledging individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the data communications community via the Jonathan B. Postel and Itojun Service Awards