Barriers to entry

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a global community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers that develops Internet protocols. Our focus is the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. We do most of our work online, largely through email and mailing lists, but we also regularly meet in-person at locations around the world. Whether online or in-person, we come together as individuals with the shared goal of making the Internet work better.

An important part of the Internet’s success is that it is all voluntary. Everyone connected to the Internet uses the same mechanisms by choice, and the Internet only works because everyone connecting uses the same mechanisms. Those mechanisms are the protocols of the Internet.

Because the Internet is voluntary, it only works if everyone wants to use the same protocols. So, our work on open standards–like that of the open source and and scientific research communities–fundamentally depends on the ability to work collaboratively across national borders.

The IETF does not make comments on political matters. But we do comment on topics that affect the IETF and the Internet. Specifically, the recent action by the United States government to bar entry by individuals from specific nations raises concerns for us—not only because upcoming IETF meetings are currently scheduled to take place in the U.S., but also because the action raises uncertainty about the ability of U.S.-based IETF participants to travel to and return from IETF meetings held outside the United States.

The situation is fluid. Legal and political processes around the imposition of barriers to travel will likely continue. We plan to track the situation closely in the US and elsewhere. We believe that Internet protocols develop best when people of many backgrounds can offer their contributions, and we are negatively impacted by policies that prevent such collaboration.

IETF meeting venues are always reviewed for potential impact on attendance by participants from different countries. Our next meeting is planned for Chicago, and we believe it is too late to change that venue. We recognize, however, that we may have to review our other planned meeting locations when the situation becomes clearer. We are already reviewing what to do as far as location for the next open North American meeting slot.

The upcoming IETF meeting schedule is at

Jari Arkko, IETF Chair
Leslie Daigle, IAOC Chair
Andrew Sullivan, IAB Chair