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FAQ about ISOC and W3C

During its December 2009 meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society (ISOC) passed a resolution in support of the W3C's efforts to provide a more agile, inclusive, and flexible organizational structure in support of the Web community. This FAQ was prepared to help answer questions about the relationship between ISOC, W3C, and other organizations. The text of this FAQ is also available at the W3C site.

Additional questions? Write Ian Jacobs (W3C) at w3t-pr@w3.org or Greg Wood (ISOC) at isoc@isoc.org.

What is at stake?

The Internet is an increasing part of everyday life and the World Wide Web is one of the most prominent and important applications on the Internet. Together, the Internet and the Web have fostered amazing innovation by users, engineers, developers, and businesses around the world. Open standards are at the heart of the Internet and the Web. The Internet Society (ISOC) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced in December 2009 ISOC's support W3C's for evolution as an organization that creates open Web standards.

How do the Internet community and users benefit from this development?

The open Internet has become an invaluable platform for innovation. Collaborative efforts (by ISOC, W3C, and many other organizations) are directly responsible for the success of this platform; these efforts ensure that the various parts of the system interoperate. ISOC and W3C believe that strong partnerships among the various organizations that form this Internet Ecosystem (see below) help ensure the stability and growth of the platform. In turn, these core standards enable people around the world to make creative use of the global network.

ISOC's support will enable W3C's evolution which, in turn, will strengthen W3C as a community forum for building consensus around future Web standards for HTML, CSS, SVG, and other standards. In W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee's words: "ISOC and W3C have a long history of cooperation and the Internet ecosystem has benefited from our shared yet independent voices. The W3C staff, Members, and community continue to work on making W3C more relevant and valuable to the Web and Internet communities. ISOC support will allow W3C to evolve its structure to ensure we continue to forge solid working relationships with the increasing numbers of developers and users, worldwide."

How are ISOC and W3C aligned?

Both organizations are dedicated to promoting open standards that drive how people use the Internet and the Web. Open standards are critical to ensuring the long-term growth and broad availability of the Internet and the Web. Sometimes referred to as the "Internet Model," this term describes a set of development and operating values shared among many of the key communities and organizations, such as the W3C, ISOC, and others, that have been central to the development and ongoing evolution of the Internet. These values include:

  • Open technical standards
  • Freely accessible processes for technology and policy development
  • Transparent and collaborative governance

Within the Internet Model, many organizations and individuals interact in what can be called the Internet Ecosystem, which is illustrated and explained here.

How have ISOC and W3C worked together?

The Internet Society and the W3C have coordinated and worked together in the past, their communities overlap significantly, and they are driven by similar underlying values. The two organizations worked together at the OECD Ministerial meeting in 2008 and in subsequent ongoing work on the OECD Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC). They have also consulted and coordinated in fora such as the ITU World Telecommunications Policy Forum and the Multistakeholder Advisory Group of the Internet Governance Forum. In addition, some W3C regional Offices and ISOC chapters are managed by the same host institution or have cooperated in organizing events.

As part of its support for, and belief in the importance of, open standards, the Internet Society was a sponsor of W3C's TPAC 2009 (November 2009) and participated in a number of sessions of the Plenary Day.

What is the nature of ISOC support of W3C as of December 2009?

ISOC's donation will advance the evolution of W3C as an organization that creates open Web standards. It will support W3C efforts to implement a more agile, inclusive, and flexible organizational structure. ISOC is providing staff expertise in complementary areas and donating money to this end. ISOC's pledge of support is for USD2.5 million over three years, with both organizations working to ensure progress.

Are ISOC and W3C merging?

No. ISOC and W3C continue to be independent.

Does this support have any impact on the ISOC/IETF relationship

No. ISOC continues to serve as the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Will ISOC exercise control over W3C technical work?

No. The December 2009 resolution by the ISOC Board of Trustees states: "ISOC and W3C recognize that W3C continues to be an independent organization and will make technical decisions according to its own process and that the financial support provided by ISOC will not encumber the W3C technical process."

The full text of the resolution is available here.

It should be noted that while there is no formal coordination between the IETF and the W3C, there is regular contact between their respective communities, which ensures mutual awareness of news and developments.

Does this support have any impact on the W3C/World Wide Web Foundation relationship?

No. World Wide Web Foundation, which officially launched operations in November 2009, is an independent entity. W3C helped create World Wide Web Foundation in September 2008, and the two organizations continue to collaborate to lower barriers to access and to promote the development of free and open Web standards.

Who is the Internet Society (ISOC)?

The Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy. With offices in Washington, D.C., and Geneva, Switzerland, and 10 other countries, it is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world. ISOC is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet's premier technical standards body. For more information see http://www.isoc.org.

Who is the W3C?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/.