Internet Society 2018 Action Plan

I. Introduction

The Internet is a force for good and we must work together to keep it that way. The Internet has become increasingly central to many of our lives and societies, allowing us to accomplish things in moments that less than a decade ago were impossible. For communities coming online, the Internet is a connection to opportunity and empowerment.

At the same time, as we look around and ahead, the forces at work to shape the Internet’s future are increasingly divergent from values that powered its past. The growth in the number of connected devices has opened cracks in our shared security. Broad and long-standing norms that have ensured the Internet’s smooth operation are diluted by the pursuit of narrowing interests. One-size-fits-all business and policy models have edged out innovative approaches to connecting the next billion people. The rise of consolidated centers of power and control has undermined collaborative processes and distributed responsibility. Open standards are being abandoned in favor of closed platforms.

We are at a pivotal moment in the Internet’s development. We risk losing the opportunity to shape the Internet’s future if we fail to act. To meet the challenges we face, we are organizing our efforts into three interconnected areas of work:

  • Undertaking sustained and comprehensive campaigns to advance a set of focused priorities through positive action,
  • Strengthening and extending the Internet Society community and organization to build a stronger foundation for realizing our vision, and
  • Fostering and incubating initiatives that respond to a changing environment and position our community for future success.

This approach is informed by the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future which collected and crystalized the diverse views and perspectives of a global community that cares deeply about how the Internet will evolve and how it will impact humanity over the next 5-7 years. Beyond identifying key issues, the process of developing the report demonstrated the capacity of our broad community to join together to make a difference in the world. In the coming year, we are more explicitly in our plans harnessing the potential of this collaboration. And, we will further invest in strengthening our global community and the organization that supports it.

We believe the voices of people around the world are key to the Internet’s future. The Internet fuels individual empowerment and collaborative innovation. Supporting and engaging people who use the Internet are our highest priorities; they have been our common and enduring causes. We have pursued these goals for 25 years, and the Internet Society community is uniquely positioned to advance them in the coming years.  During the 2017 InterCommunity event, thousands of us gathered together to celebrate our 25th anniversary with the energy and conviction we need to move boldly into the future.

It is our concrete conviction that in these challenging times we must act. We must focus. We must proceed with urgency. We must prioritize achievement over activity. We must sustain our efforts. This is our plan to do exactly that.

II. Achieving focused impact through a new approach

Over the past several years, the Internet Society has built on its foundation as a trusted resource for information about the Internet to become a force that catalyzes and effects actions vital to the Internet’s future. In 2018, we intend to continue along this path, working with members, Chapters, and partner organizations to not only inform discussions about the Internet, but to instigate the critical conversations and inspire actions by those who can advance our shared priorities. We have the ability to shape tomorrow if we are able to apply talent, resources, and commitment from across our community.

Our community, our organization, and our funding* provide strong foundational pillars for this work. Our global community includes leaders from industry, government, and the broadest reach of the Internet. The Internet Society staff themselves are global leaders in their fields, driven and united by a passion and commitment to our mission. And the Internet Society enjoys a stable organizational structure and funding model, allowing us to make long-term plans. These foundational elements underpin the approach we will take to advance our priorities.

With these elements in mind, we have developed sustained and comprehensive campaigns to advance a set of focused priorities through positive action. Each of these campaigns organize a wide range of activities to achieve a well-defined outcome. There are three further tenets that guide each campaign. First, we hold a broad vision of an Internet that is open, global and secure. Second, we are not tightly bound to a limited set of actions, and will be flexible and creative in the means we employ. Third, we know that our efforts, to be successful, must be sustained over several years.

Additional details about the campaigns, including the drivers behind them, the approaches we will take, and the specific objectives for each, are provided below.

* The Internet Society is funded by a variety of sources, including grants, sponsorships, and event registrations. The Public Interest Registry has contributed a stable and significant portion of the Internet Society’s revenue in recent years. Further detail is provided in section V. below.

A. Securing the Internet of Things

An insecure and untrusted Internet will not realize its potential to empower people, communities, and economies. Yet ensuring online security is an enormous, multifaceted endeavor which no one organization or effort can tackle. Informed by our work on the 2017 Global Internet Report, we will aim to make security a built-in feature for the rapidly growing Internet of Things.

The Internet and its users face an increasing risk of cyber threats because more insecure consumer devices connect to the Internet every day. The number of devices and systems that make up this Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020—more than 2.5 times the global population. While this is a well-known problem, not enough is being done to strengthen the security and privacy of consumer IoT.

We will urge suppliers of consumer-grade IoT devices and services to adopt the Online Trust Alliance’s (OTA) IoT security and privacy principles in the production of their devices and services. Adoption of those principles will protect the network , its users, and critical information infrastructure from cyber threats. We will also build on the growing awareness that current levels of effort in this area put consumers’ information and devices at risk. Our specific objectives are to:

  • Make the OTA IoT Trust Framework truly global,
  • Increase consumer demand for security and privacy protections built into the IoT devices they buy, and
  • Spark government policies and regulations that drive better security and privacy features in IoT devices.

A cornerstone of this campaign will be original research that will inform both the best way to implement privacy and security in IoT, and how we can have the most impact in realizing these opportunities. Based on these understandings, we will create a steady drumbeat of information and news to inform and activate consumers. As a complementary and equally important set of activities, we expect to reach out to technology companies that are creating and selling the devices that make up the IoT to help make security and privacy a priority for them.

B. Strengthening the global routing system

While the Internet of Things represents a high-profile explosion of devices connected at the edge of the global Internet, the Internet’s core is in crucial need of strengthening as well. For a long time, the reliability of the Internet’s core has relied on informal chains of trust that span continents. As Internet connections become more abundant and more critical to everyday life, and as attacks on the Internet’s infrastructure increase, security must become an integral and formal part of network operations.

To address this issue, we are promoting a set of recommendations—already adopted by some network operators—that will improve the security and resilience of the Internet’s routing system. The Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS), aims to mitigate many of the risks facing the Internet’s core today, including route hijacking, traffic detouring, and address spoofing—which is a root cause of Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks. Making MANRS an anchor point of network operations will continue the established and successful approach of the Internet community adapting and evolving how it works in the face of new circumstances and challenges.

The specific objectives of this effort are to:

  • Establish MANRS as a globally recognized best practice,
  • Garner public commitments by network operators to adopt and implement MANRS recommendations,
  • Build and support the community of MANRS adopters,
  • Facilitate resources to help network operators implement MANRS, as appropriate, and
  • Ensure the reputation and sustainability of the MANRS campaign by instating audit and monitoring procedures, and by fostering ownership and governance by the MANRS community itself.

Routing security is a multi-year campaign. During 2018, we expect to increase the rate at which networks join MANRS, and to make significant progress towards achieving a critical mass of participating network operators and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). Through outreach to organizations, enterprises, and industry groups, we aim to reach a tipping point where operators see MANRS compliance as a strategic business advantage.

We will work with content providers to implement MANRS in their own networks, and aim for five large enterprises to make MANRS compliance a requirement for their network services proposal processes. We expect MANRS will be included as part of the PeeringDB online resource, and we will provide an online dashboard that indicates MANRS compliance by participating organizations.

C. Innovating to connect the world

Internet access is a key enabler for economic, social, and human development. Yet half of the world’s population still is not connected to the Internet. After more than 25 years of Internet development, network infrastructure built and operated on traditional business models have not yet reached many remote, rural, and underserved areas. Reaching not just the next billion but the last billion requires a fresh approach. Community-powered networks based on innovative and sustainable resource models provide a way to further extend the Internet.

People in the hardest-to-reach places in the world, when properly empowered and equipped, have connected themselves to the Internet. Built using new policies, partnerships, and ways of working, these successes can influence and inform policy and decision makers, industry, and communities around the world. Known generally as Community Networks, initial successes with these approaches can inspire and guide other efforts to connect similarly challenged locations. Our campaign in this priority area will:

  • Highlight replicable models that represent new ways of working,
  • Influence changes in policy frameworks to enable community networks to flourish, and
  • Scale up deployment of, and ensure continuity for, the Community Network model.

Our efforts will leverage ISOC’s global reach and expertise to create a firm foundation for community networks as a model of last-mile access in unserved communities. They will also keep attention on connecting the hardest-to-reach areas of the world by 2020, as captured in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond fostering several new pilot projects, we expect to hold workshops and create a knowledge commons that builds capacity for implementing the conditions necessary to implement community networks around the globe.

D. Promoting collaborative governance

The collaborative, multistakeholder model of Internet governance and decision making has been a foundation for an Internet that serves its users. In the past, it has thrived even as the number and breadth of users has grown dramatically. Yet this collaborative approach, decades in the making and a foundation of the Internet’s success, is threatened at its core due to shifting global forces, changing business models, and emerging issues, such as cyber threats.

In the face of these new challenges, governments and other organizations that have previously embraced the multistakeholder model are now wavering in their support. Those who never embraced the model are stepping up their efforts to impose alternate models of Internet governance, such as government-dominated multilateral approaches. Unless urgent action is taken, the collaborative approach at the core of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance is at risk.

To counter this risk, we will promote the expanded and enhanced adoption, use, and endorsement of the Internet multistakeholder model by key governments and intergovernmental organizations in all regions of the world. Objectives for this campaign are to:

  • Encourage key governments to adopt the multistakeholder model in their own Internet-related domestic policy and regulatory approaches,
  • Ensure intergovernmental organizations positively engage industry, civil society, and other stakeholders as they tackle questions of Internet governance, and
  • Rebuild momentum for the multistakeholder model in global conversations about approaches to Internet governance.

We expect to hold a high-level multistakeholder event on the margins of an intergovernmental meeting that discusses and promotes the multistakeholder model as a means to address Internet policy and governance issues. These, and other actions, will aim for a demonstrable use of the multistakeholder model in domestic policy and regulatory Internet policy processes. Our hope is that other governments will see these examples as inspiration for their own Internet policy development processes. We will also continue to support and promote local and regional Internet Governance Forum events as key venues for building support for the multistakeholder model.

III. Building a stronger Internet Society community and organization

The Internet Society mission is realized through our vibrant community and powered by a strong organization. In 2018, we will continue to support Chapters as they make key contributions to our global priorities at the local level. We will work with Organization Members to more closely align shared interests and priorities, and to further strengthen the Internet Society organization itself to be agile and forceful.

A. Strengthening our Chapters

Strengthening and increasing support for the Internet Society membership community is key to our collective success. We will continue and extend our efforts to ensure the success of Chapters around the world. Strengthened Regional Bureaus will serve as important conduits and catalysts for integrating and tailoring local priorities, perspectives, and capabilities into Internet Society activities and processes. Creating and fostering connections across our global community is equally important. To that end we will continue to support the activities of the Chapters Advisory Council, which provides a key channel for Chapters to share information and collaborate with each other, as well as for understanding how Chapters can be best supported in their efforts.

One example of direct support for Chapter priorities is the Beyond the Net grant program which funds innovative ideas that advance the Internet Society mission and contribute to the empowerment of people through projects focused on local impact. We will also continue to fund and develop resources, including tools and assets, as well as other activities, that support Chapters’ presence and engagement at a local level. As part of this effort, we will organize workshops with Chapters to build alignment and to increase Chapters’ ability to act as advocates.

The collaboration with Chapters on regional events, and through various fellowship programs has been very successful and will continue in the coming year. We look forward to the continued success of quarterly community-wide meetings which connect hundreds of members worldwide. To bring together the global Internet Society community, we will again convene the InterCommunity event, which joins thousands of people each year around a central theme.

B. Extending the reach of Organization Members

We will connect our organization membership experience more closely with the Internet Society’s priorities, for example, by fostering ways for members to work and engage with each other to develop, promote, and advocate for real-world best practices that support our campaigns. The integration of the Online Trust Alliance Initiative provides a model for collaborative and focused engagement that we believe should be adopted for other areas of Internet Society’s work. We also will work with our Organization Members in the coming year to implement an updated membership benefits structure, to provide new impetus to working groups, and to strengthen the advisory and advocacy functions of the Organization Members Advisory Council.

We aim to extend our fundraising efforts by adding donor-centric capabilities and systems, and by expanding organization memberships into programmatic partnerships. Members will be offered opportunities throughout the year to engage in several ways, including by joining in the four 2018 campaigns, supporting local Chapters, and participating in working groups to develop best practices. We will also work with members to encourage their employees to become individual ISOC members.

C. Strengthening the Internet Society Organization

Starting in 2014, the Board of Trustees authorized programs to help build the Internet Society organization’s infrastructure and capacity to grow over years to come. To match our organizational priorities in the next year and beyond, our communications effort must build on the successes of the past years, which have included reinvigorating the Internet Society brand and applying it to our most important communications channels, such as our website. To realize our goal of inspiring focused action, we must have the appropriate tools and resources to energize and support our community and others. Our investments in this area will provide the foundation for communications capabilities and systems that support activities integral to our action-led approach and are critical for delivering on our strategic focus.

Another part of these organizational investments in the coming year will continue modernizing ISOC’s technology assets. Building on the successful completion of a number of technology projects over the past years, four primary areas have been identified for attention:

  • Implementing a new system to manage membership data,
  • Modernizing our financial systems,
  • Further upgrading our website platform, and
  • Developing the organizational intranet, known as “Intersect”.

In addition, during the first quarter of 2018, we intend to develop and implement an organization-wide compliance program based on a risk management review conducted in 2017.

D. Continuing support for our core values

As we adopt a new approach to our work to become a greater force for change, we intend to continue supporting long-standing projects, such as the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award and the Internet Hall of Fame, that are at the core of our enduring mission. We will explore opportunities provided by newer efforts, such as the incredibly successful “25 under 25” program begun in 2017. Our goal here is to build on and hone those efforts which proved to be successful.

In that vein, we will also continue fostering the development of IXPs and supporting the activities of emerging Network Operators’ Groups to promote the growth of infrastructure and human capital at a local level. And, we look forward to continuing our long-standing legacy of supporting technical and other training to extend and build the capacity of the growing global Internet community. These efforts both provide a base, for and complement to, the focused efforts of our four campaigns.

Supporting and promoting the work of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) remains a critical part of our efforts. Open standards developed by the IETF are a foundation of the global Internet. Today, in the face of increasing security threats and the growth of closed, proprietary technologies, these open global standards are even more important to strengthen the Internet’s resiliency and the ability for anyone to participate in the development of Internet technology. The Internet Society’s history is entwined with the IETF, and ISOC remains profoundly committed to ensuring the IETF’s continued success.

While support for open standards is woven into the fabric of all ISOC’s efforts, we are also focused on ensuring the operational sustainability of the IETF. As our own plan for 2018 is being developed, the IETF community is considering how best to structure its own oversight and administrative activities. ISOC remains fully committed to continuing to support the IETF directly. We expect in the coming year to work with IETF leadership to ensure our shared vision for an Internet built on open standards is reflected in the relationship established between the IETF and ISOC going forward.

We also understand that our evolving approach to accomplishing our mission naturally means re-examining and re-prioritizing what we do. To achieve focus, we must provide transitions for areas of work that have either accomplished their goals, or are better undertaken by partners outside the Internet Society in the long term. For these, we aim to ensure the work is self-sustaining going forward, or otherwise responsibly refocused. For each of the projects or efforts identified to fall in this category, we will be engaging with the communities and partners affected to ensure a smooth, positive transition of work.

IV. Nurturing new initiatives to respond to a changing environment

As the environment in which the Internet Society operates evolves, so must our approaches to addressing the challenges we face. Part of the Internet Society’s work in 2018 will be to begin and incubate initiatives that address opportunities and requirements that have presented themselves as we have pursued our mission. These initiatives aim to build new avenues to increase the effectiveness of our key priorities and mission, or to reinforce in new ways our existing efforts.

A. Broadening the foundation for online trust

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) initiative was integrated into Internet Society in 2017, retaining its focus on enhancing online trust, empowering users, and sparking innovation by convening multistakeholder efforts to develop and promote best practices in privacy and data stewardship. In 2018 OTA will continue its work in these areas, extending its scope globally, inline with the Internet Society activities and community. In particular, the OTA’s Internet of Things Trust Framework will provide a foundation for Internet Society’s campaign to secure the Internet of Things.

The OTA’s membership and activities complement and have the potential to extend the Internet Society priorities, community, and way of working. OTA’s membership consisted of companies in the email, security, and online marketing sectors; it also included companies such as American Greetings, Publishers Clearing House, and Twitter who are strong advocates for best practices in online trust. OTA’s work is primarily conducted through working groups, made up of members with expertise in various areas, where issues are discussed and ultimately result in deliverables that can be used by a broad range of organizations seeking guidance on best practices for security and privacy. As just one example, the annual Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll assesses over 1,000 organizations in the areas of consumer protection, site security, and privacy.

B. Expanding the use of multistakeholder processes for collaborative decision-making

In 2017 the Internet Society commissioned a feasibility study to explore whether we can build on the momentum from the recent success of the multistakeholder approach to expand the use of these processes globally. Based on the results of the study, we propose to launch an incubator project to demonstrate the efficacy of the multistakeholder model through three key activities:

  • Convening stakeholders to solve concrete problems and develop norms on a consensus basis,
  • Training stakeholders on how to be effective in multistakeholder discussions, and
  • Building and promoting academic research and writing on the multistakeholder approach.

While ISOC’s commitment to, and engagement in, multistakeholder approaches is well-known and long-standing, we believe that there is more work to do to support the use of multistakeholder approaches globally. In 2018, the Internet Society will incubate these activities as a project of the Internet Society in order to allow the concept to develop and grow. We understand that any endeavor of this sort must engage stakeholders across the globe in order to be successful. Further, we believe it is prudent to ramp up over time once the concept has been proven.

It is our strong view that this project should not compete with or become an alternative to existing multistakeholder organizations such as ICANN, the IETF, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), or other bottom-up multistakeholder initiatives in the Internet ecosystem. While the Internet Society would be the incubator of this initiative, it is possible that, over time, the project would attract additional outside funding for long-term sustainability.

C. Embracing civil society as a key partner in the Internet’s future

Beginning mid-year 2017, the Internet Society launched an initiative to more fully and effectively engage Civil Society. The primary objective has been to create a reciprocal relationship so that the Internet Society’s mission is seen as supporting Civil Society in advancing its work in relevant areas, and to enable and support Civil Society as advocates for our shared priorities.

These initial steps taken in 2017 improved our understanding of Civil Society and its work, and where this work intersects with the Internet Society’s objectives. The effort further understood where and how Civil Society was engaged in multistakeholder processes. As a final theme of work, this initiative built resources within the Internet Society organization to serve as a foundation for further research, outreach, and engagement.

Building on the work accomplished in 2017, we will incorporate Civil Society into our campaigns and activities for the coming year and beyond in a more integral way. We expect this will mean developing capabilities and resources that allow us to engage outside the traditional Internet Society community. This is expected to be a sustained effort that will be fully integrated into the Internet Society’s planning processes and activities.

V. Directing resources to accomplish our objectives

Our 2018 Action Plan is supported by a Financial Plan that ensures the Internet Society remains fiscally strong and operates in the most effective manner as a charitable not-for-profit entity. The Action Plan ensures that available resources are dedicated to achieving the greatest impact while the Financial Plan allows us to clearly execute, stay aligned with our resources, and chart a roadmap for future opportunities.

Summary Statement of Activities
(amounts in US$000s)

2018 Budget

Unrestricted Internet Society Revenues

Memberships, Sponsorships, Grants & Contributions


IETF Meeting Registrations, Hosts, Sponsors


Public Interest Registry Contribution


Total Unrestricted Internet Society Revenues


Internet Society Expenses



Core Programs


Organization & Operating Costs


Board Governance


IETF Expenses (excluding Capital)


Total Internet Society Expenses


Net Surplus


Interest and Currency


Net Unrestricted Surplus


2018 Revenue Plan

Our 2018 Revenue Plan totals US$42.6 million with the annual contribution from Public Interest Registry (PIR) increasing in 2018 to US$34.6 million. Internet Society-generated (non-PIR) revenues of US$8.0 million are based on readily identifiable sources from members, sponsors, contributors, grantors, and meeting registrations. During 2018, our revenue generation will focus on organization and individual members, as well as establishing corporate partnerships. In 2018, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) fundraising efforts will continue to center on increasing funds raised to sponsor IETF meetings, as well as increasing registrations. 

Projected Revenue By Source
(amounts in US$000s)

2018 Revenue Plan

Organization Membership & Individual Donors


Internet Society Event Sponsorships


Corporate Partnerships


Event Registration


Grants & Contributions


IETF Meeting Registrations, Hosts, Sponsors, Other


Total ISOC Generated Revenue


Public Interest Registry Contribution


Total Revenue by Source


Internet Engineering Task Force

The 2018 Financial Plan provides significant support to the IETF, which reflects the Internet Society’s commitment to the IETF’s importance as the premiere Internet standards organization. The work of the IETF, including the emphasis on improving the technical underpinnings for security and online privacy, is central to sustaining the Internet’s openness and innovation.

Summary of Activities: IETF 2018 Budget
(amounts in US$000s)

IETF Revenues

Hosts & Sponsors


Registration Fees & Other


Total IETF Revenues


Operation Expenses


ISOC Direct Contribution (excluding Capitalized Development)


Capitalized Tools Development


Total ISOC Direct Contribution



As we conclude the Internet Society’s 25th year, we are at a pivotal point in the development of the Internet itself. The need for an open, global Internet remains clear, yet challenges abound. Merely observing current trends or hoping others will act are not viable options. We are confident that our energized and focused approach in 2018 will result in greater effect, and better support our global community.

While there is much to do in the coming year, and beyond, this plan aims to prepare us all for the work that is yet over the horizon. We are energized by the opportunity, and the necessity, to do this work well, and committed to a sustained effort. We understand that realizing the potential of billions of Internet users today—and even more importantly the potential of billions of people yet to connect—rests on realizing our vision for its future.

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