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The Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF)

The Internet Engineering Task-Force (IETF) is the primary body behind the Internet. It is responsible for specifications governing application protocols, such as HTTP, transports, routing, security, real-time communications, operational management, and a several others.

The IETF standardization process is a combination of bottom-up development and top-down control mechanisms. Anyone may pen an internet draft, on any topic they choose. These drafts expire within six months, and must generally be adopted by a working group to achieve a Request for Comments (RFC) status. When a working group has chosen to promote a specific draft, it is subjected to a review by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) who may seek to further revise the specification before it is adopted or rejected.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) group controls the allocation of numbers and identifiers for small registries. For example, the set of identifiers for media types on the Internet is governed by the IANA. The assignment of TCP port numbers is also a responsibility of this group. The IANA provides registries of important identifiers that can act as a quick reference into applicable standards and can avoid identifier clashes from occurring. A separate body, known as the RFC editor, is responsible for assigning identifiers to standards themselves, as they move out of draft phase and become RFCs.

Key standards governed by the IETF include:

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) - http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2616
  • Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) - http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3986
  • Atom Syndication Format - http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc4287
  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) - http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc793

Additional media types are registered by the IANA:

http://www.iana.org/assignments/media-types/