Global Standards in the Age of Borderless Commerce

Posted on September 6th, 2012

By Russ Housley, Internet Engineering Task Force chair, and Steve Mills, IEEE Standards Association president

Global standards have been driving innovation, contributing to the growth of markets and protecting the health and safety of workers and the general public for centuries. This key function of standards is not changing. Today, more than ever, the world needs global standards to enable the creation of products and services that will be implemented and used by customers globally. Such global standards have the most significant impact for industry, in terms of creating global markets. Consumers benefit from improved interoperability, greater simplicity and more competitive prices. Global standards are essential to bringing about the world that humankind desires.

What has changed is the increasing globalization of markets and how these markets drive the standards dynamic. Because industry today exists in an effectively borderless world of commerce, a borderless standards paradigm is needed, too. Globalization, together with the rapid advancement of technology and intensifying time-to-market demands, have caused industry to seek more efficient ways to define global standards, which, in turn, help expand the global markets.

The “OpenStand” principles—based on the effective and efficient standardization processes that have made the Internet and Web the premiere platforms for innovation and borderless commerce—foster the efficient, technical-merit-driven and open modern paradigm of global standardization that borderless commerce requires.

IEEE, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Society and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on 29 August 2012 announced that they have signed a statement affirming the importance of the jointly developed OpenStand principles, establishing a modern paradigm for global, open standards. The OpenStand principles demand:

  • cooperation among standards organizations;
  • adherence to due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance and openness in standards development;
  • commitment to technical merit, interoperability, competition, innovation and benefit to humanity;
  • availability of standards to all; and
  • voluntary adoption.

The OpenStand principles strive to encapsulate the successful Internet standardization model and create a more agile standards-development paradigm—one that is more driven by technical merit—for the contemporary, global economy’s gamut of technology spaces and markets.

In the established and well-known traditional model of standards, countries drive adoption by bodies with national representation. These bodies are formed by treaties or other inter-government agreements, and standards are ratified by representatives from the countries that signed the treaties or agreements—often via a one-nation/one-vote model. This model aligned with the way that markets historically have been organized around the world.

With the rise of borderless commerce, however, new requirements have emerged. In response, the OpenStand principles strive to define the complementary model of standards development and adoption that has grown up around the Internet and other technology areas. In this modern paradigm for global, open standards, it is the economics of global markets—fueled by technological innovation—that drive global deployment of standards. International recognition of a particular standard is determined organically by the standard’s adoption in actual products and services that are used around the world.

The voice of the international marketplace grows louder. When the market itself is empowered to choose the appropriate solutions and decide which standards are relevant, those markets become self-sustaining and drive innovation in technology, products and services. Consumers benefit from better products, improved interoperability, greater simplicity and more competitive prices. Industry realizes a globally scaled marketplace for its products and services. In these ways, the OpenStand principles benefit humanity.

Fellow standards organizations, as well as governments and individual companies, are invited to join with IEEE, the IAB, IETF, Internet Society and W3C on the OpenStand Web site and support the principles. Please stand with us.

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