The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the institutional home for Internet Standards development. In short, the IETF develops, supports, and maintains standards that support the Internet, communications, systems and protocols, etc. As with other open standards development organizations (SDOs), participation in the IETF is open to anyone with the expertise and inclination to engage in standards development.
Unfortunately, despite the global openness of IETF, most contributors have historically hailed from the West, with the top three contributing nations being the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany. According to recent IETF data, presented by IETF Chair, Jari Arkko, of the 70 countries that have published standards documents and under-review specifications, only seven of those were Latin American:
- Argentina (23 published documents)
- Brazil (7 documents)
- Chile (5 documents)
- Uruguay (2 documents)
- Cuba (1 document)
- Colombia (1 document)
- Ecuador (1 document)
Noting increased involvement from the Latin American region, IETF and ISOC sought to bolster the region’s participation by launching a program to provide financial aid to engineers from under-represented regions to support attendance at IETF meetings. Several Latin American web professionals have already taken advantage of this program. They have also established the IETF-LAC group, which works with Latin American (and Caribbean) engineers to coordinate their contributions to and involvement in the IETF.
While this represents a significant inroad to increasing the Latin American footprint in the world of open web standards collaboration, success requires more than just financial aid programs and regional coordinating bodies: There must be significant employer commitment to investing in standards development, as well as support from governments and universities who want to help build a web that is open, innovative, and truly global.
The IETF’s move underscores its deep commitment to the OpenStand Principles and the belief that active participation from all regions is key for the Internet to remain open and inclusive. We hope our readers in Latin America will take note of these changes and participate with IETF in open standards.