Celebrating the Importance of OpenStand

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The OpenStand approach to creating global standards has never been more relevant—or important—than it is today.

Two years ago, when OpenStand was announced and endorsed by the IEEE, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Society, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), supporters agreed standards developed according OpenStand principles were key to the historic growth and evolution of the Internet.

As Chair of the IETF when OpenStand was announced, and Chair of the IAB today, I believe also that these principles are fundamental to the Internet’s future success—and that they establish a broader paradigm for standards covering many topics that are fundamental to a thriving global economy and the social wellbeing. The role of standards development organizations is often hidden in everyday life, but the impact of standards is felt by billions of people everyday.

In summary, the OpenStand principles are:

Due process. Decisions are made with equity and fairness among participants.

Broad consensus. Processes allow for all views to be considered and addressed, such that agreement can be found across a range of interests.

Transparency: Advance public notice of proposed standards development activities is provided, easily accessible records of decisions and the materials used in reaching those decisions are provided, and public comment periods are provided before final standards approval and adoption.

Balance: Standards activities are not exclusively dominated by any particular person, company or interest group.

Openness: Processes are open to all interested and informed parties.

Within the IETF, standards emerge from technical merit and rough consensus, but the standards are really considered a success when the market voluntarily adopts them. IETF participation is open to any interested individual, and processes are transparent. Every draft, discussion of the draft, as well as the final IETF standard, are freely available to everyone.

Internationalized domain names (IDNs) are just one specific instance of how standards developed in the IETF have helped make the Internet more accessible to the billions of people. IDNs allow all people to use domain names in their native script. Two years ago IDNs were just taking off, and they see even greater adoption and deployment today. One important part of the story behind the IDN standards is that the IETF did not get them right the first time. When the technical community saw that the original IDN standards were not being voluntarily adopted, they were revisited and refined.

More recently, major email providers are adopting and deploying the results of the IETF Email Address Internationalization (EAI) working group —another step towards making the Internet even more accessible to all people around the world.

One of the biggest developments for the Internet since the announcement of OpenStand has been the revelation of pervasive monitoring on a massive scale and scope. In response, the IAB and IETF have started work to improve the security, privacy, and overall trustworthiness of Internet protocols. Of course, this work is taking place through the usual open and transparent IETF processes, allowing the results, and the steps taken to reach them, to be examined by anyone.

Participants in the IETF say that their goal is to “make the Internet work better.” OpenStand principles help ensure IETF standards do just that, while providing open and accessible standards around the world. With support for OpenStand principles growing in the past two years, it’s clear that others understand the importance of these principles as well.

Russ Housley, IAB Chair