Internet Society 2017 Action Plan

In 2017 we strive for even greater effectiveness, seeking to be a stronger force for change in the world. We aim to build and deepen engagement across our community and organization. We embrace our technical roots, planted in the Internet Engineering Task Force. We remain inspired by our mission, and look forward to setting the stage for the next 25 years of success.


The Internet Society community around the world is united by the conviction that a ubiquitous and trusted Internet is a unique force for good. We are guided by the vision of an Internet of Opportunity that is open, globally connected, and governed by its users from “the bottom up”. The Internet of Opportunity allows us to tackle our most pressing challenges: ending poverty and hunger, improving healthcare, increasing access to education, and promoting innovation. And, we understand that our collective potential increases as more of us connect with each other.

Yet, even as half the people in the world are expected to have access to the Internet in the coming year, emerging challenges threaten progress towards an Internet for everyone. First among these is ensuring the Internet is a trusted platform for communication that people seek to use. At the same time, we must continue to extend the opportunity to connect to the half of the world who are not yet online.

Conversations about the Internet are increasingly focused on uncertainty, insecurity, and fear of online interaction. We believe that to ensure people take advantage of the capabilities Internet access provides, a multi-faceted effort to strengthen online trust is required. In 2016, the Internet Society set strong foundations for a coordinated approach to addressing the policy, technical, and operational aspects of this challenge. The increasing importance of this issue compels us to redouble our efforts in 2017.

People who want to connect must have the opportunity to do so. Therefore ensuring those yet unconnected gain access to the Internet becomes more important, yet more difficult as they often are in locations that present greater challenges. We know that providing infrastructure is required but insufficient. Building regional communities of technical and policy expertise is a key component of ensuring strong and sustained connectivity. This has been a core of the Internet Society’s work over the past 25 years, so we approach this effort with an understanding gained through past successes, and with an urgency imparted by its importance for addressing the broader challenges in the world.

Our accomplishments over the past 25 years provide knowledge and confidence. In 2017 we strive for even greater effectiveness, seeking to be a stronger force for change in the world. We aim to build and deepen engagement across our community and organization. We embrace our technical roots, planted in the Internet Engineering Task Force. We remain inspired by our mission, and look forward to setting the stage for the next 25 years of success.


2017 Objectives

For 2017 we have set four main Objectives. Two Objectives continue themes established last year around trust and access, and two focus on strengthening the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Our Objectives for 2017 are to:

  1. Increase trust in the Internet to deliver its full benefit;
  2. Connect the unconnected to enable economic, social, and human development;
  3. Strengthen the Internet Society to become a more effective voice in the world; and
  4. Strengthen the IETF to sustain a core element of the Internet’s foundation and future.

Both trust and access are necessary components for realizing an Internet of opportunity for everyone. Our success also depends on increasing the influence of the Internet Society organization and community. Likewise, we are committed to ensuring the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) remains a vibrant and sustained source of the open standards that form a foundation of the Internet. We also understand that to achieve our vision, our approach must reflect the principles of collaboration, inclusion, transparency, and partnership embedded in how the Internet itself works.

The following section summarizes these Objectives, outlines the key initiatives that define how we will approach each of them, and provides examples of the tangible outcomes we expect to result from the cross-organizational projects we will undertake.

1. Increase trust in the Internet

Without trust, the Internet cannot deliver its potential benefit to the whole world. Users must view the Internet as a safe and reliable means to communicate. They must be willing to use online services for commerce, government, and social interaction. Four key components of increased trust in the Internet are:

  • User trust,
  • Trust technologies,
  • Trusted networks, and
  • Trust in the ecosystem that encompasses all stakeholders affecting how the Internet is operated and governed.

These components correspond to four interrelated initiatives we will undertake in 2017 to:

  • Identify and advocate for best practices in privacy, security, and ethical data handling;
  • Collaborate with and support partners to make more pervasive and usable the technologies that underpin digital identity, confidentiality of communications, and data privacy;
  • Strengthen and expand practices by network operators that increase the security and resilience of routing mechanisms and protocols; and
  • Advocate for policies that enhance security and privacy, and promote the ecosystem of transparent, multistakeholder Internet governance.

A concrete example of our work includes continuing to promote the adoption of a collaborative approach to improving security by network operators and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). To accomplish this, we will extend the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) project beyond the more than 40 companies and organizations around the world currently committed to the effort. We will create and promote workshops and guides that both identify privacy issues and make it easier to put solutions into practice. We will engage in policy fora, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, to shape mandates and policy approaches for dealing with issues such as the ethical handling of user data.

By the end of 2017, we expect the Internet Society will be seen as a leader— both globally and regionally—in framing dialogues around issues such as cybersecurity policy. Beyond positioning, we will undertake a coordinated campaign to have our vision and approach adopted by and reflected in the technical and policy activities of our communities, civil society, industry, and governments. We will intervene when needed to confront policies and challenge practices that threaten trust in the Internet. And, we will highlight accomplishments that improve it.

2. Connect the unconnected

We believe Internet access is a key enabler for economic, social, and human development. But only half the world is connected and the rate of Internet access growth is decreasing. What’s more, issues such as trust in the Internet have joined cost and availability as barriers to access. Therefore, one of our key Objectives for 2017 is to extend Internet access by not only increasing the availability of the Internet infrastructure around the world, but also by addressing the underlying obstacles to its sustained use. Integrating the physical and intellectual capital requirements for increasing Internet access, we will undertake four initiatives to:

  • Provide more network infrastructure development, including wireless community networks and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs);
  • Empower communities to translate Internet access into opportunities for development;
  • Invest in the next generation of leaders across technology, policy, and business that will make the right decisions for the future of the Internet; and
  • Equip existing leaders in government and industry with frameworks that adopt global policy approaches to local and regional conditions and requirements.

Our efforts in this Objective build on the Internet Society’s long history and deep experience in promoting Internet access and use. We believe the Internet Society has a critical role as a catalyst that, if not continued, will result in slower infrastructure deployment in some regions. Similarly, we will continue to promote the development of future Internet leaders in policy and technical arenas. We will extend our community project funding approach to promote the empowerment of women and educational opportunities for all that Internet access affords. We understand that even the same issues are not addressed identically in different places around the world, so we will convene regional dialogues that adapt and inform our global policy work.

We have high expectations for results. By the end of the year our outcomes will include accelerating at least two additional community network projects in each region, providing wireless connectivity to ten more locations, and developing five new IXPs. We will have brought together an active cohort of Internet leaders in key policy and technical fora, such as the IETF and ITU. And, we expect to have established concrete recommendations that tangibly contribute to policies spurring Internet access in key countries around the world.

3. Strengthen the Internet Society

To achieve our goals the Internet Society must become a stronger, more effective force for change in the world. Especially on the issues we believe are most critical to the Internet’s success, we must be more influential and visible. To this end, we will continue to build a strong global community and a world- class organization with operational strength, financial stability, and increased external presence. And we will continue to use the Internet to connect, communicate, and collaborate.

Our efforts in this Objective are organized into five initiatives spanning information technology, communications, partnership development, stakeholder relations and human resources. Working in concert, these initiatives aim to:

  • Drive communications and strengthen our identity to position ISOC as a powerful voice and influencer on Internet issues, including through a reinvigorated Web presence;
  • Improve the management of information, systems, and processes to better know and serve our communities;
  • Grow our fundraising efforts to support financial sustainability;
  • Strengthen our knowledge of, and engagement with, current and potential members, chapters, and stakeholders to advance our mutual goals; and
  • Advance our dynamic working culture that supports staff.

A central pillar of our efforts across these initiatives will be embedding our strengthened identity into everything we do. A redesigned and redeployed website will be central to this effort. Our identity will infuse thought leadership campaigns around our objectives of connecting the unconnected and strengthening trust in the Internet. Internally, we will continue to build our ability to use of the Internet itself, employing modern collaboration capabilities, and information management systems and processes, that allow our communities to communicate, share, and engage with each other better. We will deepen engagement with organization members, sustain and grow collaborations with grant partners, and implement an effective giving program that increases engagement with individual donors.

Clearly defined outcomes anchor the work under this Objective. Awareness of the Internet Society, and especially its work towards increasing Internet access and trust, will have demonstrably increased among key audiences around the world. Key groups, including media, will see the Internet Society as a critical point of reference for important and emerging Internet issues. We will have established deeper relationships with partners and stakeholders through measurably increased and improved interactions. Our individual and organizational fundraising programs will have met the specific goals set for each of them.

4. Strengthen the IETF

Since the beginning, a foundational strength of the Internet has been the open standards developed by the IETF. Similarly, the Internet Society’s history is entwined with the IETF, and ISOC remains profoundly committed to ensuring the IETF’s continued success. In 2017 we will focus on a compact set of projects organized around two initiatives to:

  • Enhance IETF financial sustainability; and
  • Promote of diverse participation in the IETF.

We will continue to engage in the operational support of securing sponsorship for the IETF. These sponsorships provide critical ongoing funding of IETF activities and underscore support from key companies and organizations that rely on the standards produced by the IETF. In addition, the IETF Endowment project will continue momentum established in 2016 towards the U$20 million initial funding goal through a well-positioned campaign, leveraging important milestones for the IETF, such as the 100th IETF meeting.

By end of 2017 we will have functional regional programs that support the IETF in implementing its own diversification objectives. These include increasing regional diversity, as well as broadening diversity of participation across industry, and deepening engagement with sectors such as academia and open source communities. As part of these efforts, we will continue to implement existing technical fellowship and policy guest programs, and to support programs such as the Applied Network Research Prize that build bridges with various communities.

These four Objectives, taken together, organize our efforts around the key challenges facing the Internet today, and strengthen our ability to address those challenges in the future. They advance Internet Society’s vision and mission and they strengthen the Internet Society and the IETF. We believe they are critical to the continued growth and evolution of the global Internet.

Understanding how well we accomplished what we set out to do is critical to setting a course for the future. Did we reach the goals we set for ourselves? Did we connect with the individuals we needed to reach to be most effective? Have we effected the change in the world we sought to make? To that end, an integral part of our plan in 2017 will be to evaluate our efforts.

This will include conducting a study on the diversity of people and communities our efforts included and affected.

Download the full 2017 Action Plan