Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

'Stupid' Question 1: Who is in charge of the internet? – how DO they make this thing work?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

I would love to know the answer to this one. I tried out the question on a few people and got the “rolling-my-eyes-cause-you-are-stupid” reaction. Nobody could answer, but I got a few suggestions. Like: your internet provider. Your landlord. You are Iris, you are… I reckon it is pretty fascinating how we can make this work, how we can connect across the globe. Lately I’ve made many new friends across the globe through Twitter, and I feel like sending a thank you note to the person in charge of this whole thing- like when you send a thank you to the chef after a lovely meal at a restaurant.

Okey. I want to send a thank you note. Where?

I googled it. Search: Who is in charge of the internet. Shock. Somebody had already googled that (I should add them as friends on FB).

Question 1: Who is in charge of the internet? – how DO they make this thing work?

I want to know who is in charge, I might want to complain, I might want to send a thank you note. But nobody is in charge, and this does feel kind of unique. I’m used to having people in charge. Internet is not a thing, but rather an intricate network that connects devices (AKA computers) together allowing for communication and this network spans the whole globe.

Nobody is in charge, but there are several organizations that set standards and guidelines. Okey, I’ve heard of them- so let’s make a small list: These organizations help making the magic happen:

Internet Society (ISOC). Nobody owns or runs the Internet, but if somebody did then ISOC would come close. ISOC oversee Internet policies, technology standards and future development. They provide financial and organizational support to Internet Engineering Task Force.

Internet Engineering Task Force – they develop and promote internet standards (Internet Standard (STD) =a normative specification technology or methodology applicable to the Internet). The task force consists of smaller working groups that focus on specific areas such as: Applications, General, Internet, Operations and Management, Real-time Applications and Infrastructure, Routing, Security, and Transport.

The directors of the different areas make up the Internet Engineering Steering Group, which takes care of the day-to-day management and provides final technical review. IETF is a part of Internet Society

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) oversees the standards and design of protocols (communication protocol*: a system of digital message formats and rules for exchanging those messages in or between**computing* *systems and in**telecommunications**) by Internet Society.*In other words it oversees some of the Task Forces, like for example Internet Engineering Task Force.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – manages domain addresses

ICANN flowchart-style

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops World Wide Web standards.


Leave a comment (via email)
7/18/2012 4:18:57 AM
Look up how the internet started. That may make more sense and help explain why it feels like no one is in charge 
7/18/2012 4:19:13 AM
How about the holders of the 7 master keys :-) 
Iris Classon
7/18/2012 4:22:47 AM
Mark: It is indeed a funny story :D

Simon: I have no clue what you are talking about, please enlighten me - I'm here to learn :) I've heard about it, but I actually don't know much about it. Would you like to share what you know? Would the key holders be considered to be in charge?- or just having certain power? 
7/18/2012 5:06:55 AM
Sure, basically there are 7 "trusted individuals" who are largely anonymous and each have 1/7th of the master DNS key.  The people who have them are not in charge, they just have the keys to the web :)

Here's a better overview than I can give you: 
Skip Cherniss
7/18/2012 11:11:44 PM
The government where the IIS Server is hosted ultimately owns that portion of the Internet. Look at how China manages the content that is viewable in their country. I would also look at the NOPA and SOPA regulations they tried to impose in the USA. Another example would be online gambling. In the USA it is illegal. That being said, there are the other organizations previously discussed which each contribute to the overall functionality of the internet. In the end, the government regulates the content for its sovereign country.

Hope this helps. 
James Curran
7/24/2012 7:33:40 AM
The answer to "Who runs the Internet?" is "Which part?"

It's much like saying "who's in charge here?"  Do you mean in this company? Town? State? or Country? Depending on exactly what part of "here" you mean, there's a different answer.

The Internet is a bunch of computers, tied together to make small network (what we used to call LANs -- local area networks).  Those small networks are tied together the make bigger networks, and those are tied together to make still bigger network, and so on, until they are all tied together, and we call it the Internet.

At each level there, a different person is in charge.  At one level (computer) you are in charge: You decide how much (usually zero) of the content of your computer allow other people to access across the network.  At a higher level, your ISP is in charge. At a still higher level, the government of land is generally creates a vast network to tied together the smaller network in the country (however, most, like the US, subcontract it out to a private business).  However, it's important to note that there's absolutely nothing to stop a large corporation from stringing up their own wires and building their own network of those smaller networks (they would have to talk the other network into join them) 
7/30/2012 4:44:59 PM
Hi Iris,


Last modified on 2012-07-18