Who is "in charge" of the Internet?

Most people with even a passing familiarity of the net would likely name ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as the organization that governs the whole show. Or, perhaps, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) headed up by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

These two organizations are indeed important and significantly influence many internet and web standards. But they're just two of nearly a dozen organizations, societies, task forces and other groups that collectively work behind the scenes to assure the smooth functioning of the worlds largest network.

Certain protocols, and the parameters required for their usage, are essential in order to operate on the Internet. A number of bodies have become responsible for those protocol standards and parameters. It can be fairly said that those bodies steer the Internet in a significant sense.

The bodies belong to three major families. Links, both formal and informal, exist between the groups.

The first, Internet technological standards, are developed and set by the group consisting of the Internet Society (ISOC). ICANN, mentioned above, is responsible for Internet DOMAIN NAMES and IP ADDRESSES. And world wide web standards are developed by the W3C.

By Chris Sherman, Associate Editor
Search Engine Watch
March 14, 2005