Defining the IETF
RFC 3233

Document Type RFC - Best Current Practice (February 2002; No errata)
Also known as BCP 58
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         P. Hoffman
Request for Comments: 3233                      Internet Mail Consortium
BCP: 58                                                       S. Bradner
Category: Best Current Practice                       Harvard University
                                                           February 2002

                           Defining the IETF

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This document gives a more concrete definition of "the IETF" as it
   understood today.  Many RFCs refer to "the IETF".  Many important
   IETF documents speak of the IETF as if it were an already-defined
   entity.  However, no IETF document correctly defines what the IETF
   is.

1. Introduction

   Many RFCs refer to "the IETF".  Many important IETF documents speak
   of the IETF as if it were an already-defined entity.  However, no
   IETF document correctly defines what the IETF is.  This document
   gives a more concrete definition of "the IETF" as it understood
   today.

2. Defining the IETF

   BCP 9 ("The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3") [BCP 9], the
   primary document that describes the Internet standards process, never
   defines the IETF.  As described in BCP 11 ("The Organizations
   Involved in the IETF Standards Process") [BCP 11], the Internet
   Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an open global community of network
   designers, operators, vendors, and researchers producing technical
   specifications for the evolution of the Internet architecture and the
   smooth operation of the Internet.

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RFC 3233                   Defining the IETF               February 2002

   It is important to note that the IETF is not a corporation: it is an
   unincorporated, freestanding organization.  The IETF is partially
   supported by the Internet Society (ISOC).  ISOC is an international
   non-profit organization incorporated in the US with thousands of
   individual and corporate members throughout the world who pay
   membership fees to join.  The Internet Society provides many services
   to the IETF, including insurance and some financial and logistical
   support.

   As described in BCP 11, Internet standardization is an organized
   activity of the ISOC, with the ISOC Board of Trustees being
   responsible for ratifying the procedures and rules of the Internet
   standards process.  However, the IETF is not a formal subset of ISOC;
   for example, one does not have to join ISOC to be a member of the
   IETF.

   There is no board of directors for the IETF, no formally signed
   bylaws, no treasurer, and so on.  The structure of the IETF (its
   leadership, its working groups, the definition of IETF membership,
   and so on) are described in detail in BCP 11.  Procedures for
   choosing leadership are described in detail in BCP 10.

   Thus, when RFCs say "the IETF", they are describing the group that
   acts in accordance with BCP 9, BCP 10, and BCP 11.

3. Security Considerations

   All IETF protocols must describe the security aspects of the
   environment in which they will be used.  Also, the IETF has a
   Security Area which discusses the security aspects of IETF protocols.
   However, descriptive documents such as this one do not affect the
   security of the Internet.

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RFC 3233                   Defining the IETF               February 2002

A. References

   [BCP 9]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3",
            BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [BCP 10] Galvin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and
            Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall
            Committees", BCP 10, RFC 2727, February 2000.

   [BCP 11] Hovey, R. and S. Bradner, "The Organizations Involved in the
            IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028, October 1996.

B. Editors' Addresses

   Paul Hoffman
   Internet Mail Consortium
   127 Segre Place
   Santa Cruz, CA  95060  USA

   EMail: phoffman@imc.org

   Scott Bradner
   Harvard University
   29 Oxford St
   Cambridge MA 02138

   EMail: sob@harvard.edu

Hoffman & Bradner        Best Current Practice                  [Page 3]
RFC 3233                   Defining the IETF               February 2002

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
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