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Who's in Charge?

Would you believe nobody is in charge of the Internet? It's true. Your kids might think that's pretty cool. The Internet is a collaborative effort. No one organization or institution runs the Internet. Not the government, not the guys who started it all with ARPANET, not the commercial online services—nobody owns the Internet. Interesting to find out, isn't it?

That's not to say nobody has any influence over this beast. There are organizations made up of technical people that help shape the Internet and its protocols. Here are a few you might like to know about:

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)  This group keeps an eye on the Internet's ongoing evolution, helping to ensure that everything progresses smoothly, technologically speaking.

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB)  This group helps define and refine the overall structure of the Internet and provides input to the IETF.

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)  This group manages the Internet standards process and the activities of the IETF.

The Internet Society (ISOC)  This group is made up of corporations, organizations, government agencies, and individuals taken from the Internet community. Its purpose is to oversee the IAB and IESG and handle Internet policies and practices.

The Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC) and The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)  Both of these groups help with the assignment of domain names and IP addresses.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  This group sets Web protocols and HTML standards.

Plenty of groups contribute to the Internet, such as the government, the telecommunications industries, Internet service providers, and the like. Many of these groups find ways to make money by providing access to the Internet to others. With certain Internet issues, some of these groups have come together to solve technical problems that affect the industry as a whole. But no one group controls the Internet.

Knowing that no one is charge perhaps explains much of what you currently see going on with the Internet and the Web. Keep in mind that the Internet pioneers conducted things a lot differently than you see on the Internet today. They were pretty scientifically and academically minded, and didn't allow all the silliness you see online today. They certainly didn't have to contend with the criminal element. Now, with the growing dangers online, many people are concerned about the direction the Internet is taking, especially as it relates to children. This leads us to our next topic: Is anybody going to regulate the Internet?

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