As many of you know I have a long history within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), having been involved since 1989. The IETF is responsible for many of the underlying protocols that computers use to talk with one another for purposes such as Email and the Web. I have served as the chair of two working groups, a research group, and have written numerous drafts and requests for comments.
As of late I have been involved with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ITU is a U.N. organization whose origins date back to at least 1869, long prior to forming of the U.N. The ITU has developed numerous data communication standards, including X.509, which is what web encryption uses, as well as many of the codecs that are used on the network to transmit voice and video.
Last May I was able to join the United States delegation to the World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTDC) in Hyderabad India. Now I have been asked to serve as the Internet Architecture Board liaison to the ITU-T. My role will be first and foremost to see that liaisons (messages between the organizations) are properly handled by the IAB and IETF. I will advise the IAB and IETF on how the ITU-T functions, and the context around particular liaison statements. Occasionally I will assist in drafting liaison statements.
These organizations operate quite differently. The IETF is driven by individual participation, where people needn’t even attend meetings to participate in decisions. The ITU-T is an intergovernmental organization in which only governments may make decisions, although others may advise.
This is an important role at an important time, because when these two organizations do not cooperate at some level, they end up duplicating and competing with each other’s work. That can lead to more expensive products or products that do not work well together.