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The Internet Engineering Task Force, famous keeper of RFCs, FYIs and Internet-Drafts, is an international community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers trying to smooth the operation and evolution of Internet and its architecture. This is done through various working groups specialized in areas such as routing, transport, security, etc.

The people managing these working groups are part of the Internet Engineering Steering Group, IESG. The in turn are controlled from an architechtural stanpoint by the Internet Architecture Board, IAB. Both the IESG and IAB are in turn chartered by the Internet Society, ISOC, who also charters the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, IANA, to act as a gatekeeper for Internet protocols and parameters.

Compared to other standardization bodies, like W3C and OASIS, IETF works more with the nitty gritty details of Internet, so SMTP, MIME, S/MIME and ipsec are typical examples of IETF working groups. The really cool thing is that since the IETF is not an organisation, but a community, all you have to do to participate is to join a working group mailing list.

Their official web site, from which I have gathered most of my information, is at http://www.ietf.org/

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