First woman named chair of Internet Architecture Board

The Internet Engineering Task Force, a legendary volunteer organization that has built most of the technology that makes the Internet work, has selected its first woman for a key leadership position.

Leslie Daigle, a pioneer in search engines, directory and Web services, is the new chair of the IETF's Internet Architecture Board. Daigle's appointment will be announced at a session held here Wednesday night.

The IAB is a technical advisory group consisting of 13 Internet experts who appoint the IETF chair and all of the IETF's area directors. The IAB also serves as a liaison to other standards-setting and policy-making bodies. But the IAB's chief role is to provide a big-picture perspective on the protocols and procedures used by the Internet.

Daigle is the fifth chair of the IAB, which was formed in 1989 along with the IETF itself. Daigle replaces John Klensin, who helped design the Internet's original file transfer and e-mail systems back in the late 1960s.

Daigle, who was formerly the IAB's executive director, was the favored candidate for the chair position. She takes over a radically different IAB, which has five new members this year. Daigle's post will be up for renewal in a year.

"The important fact is not that she's a woman, but that she's a competent person, and we intend to put her to work," says Fred Baker, a member of the IAB and former chair of the IETF.

"Leslie has done a lot of work in the Web, and expertise in that area is obviously important to us," adds Scott Bradner, a director of both the IETF's Transport and Sub-IP Areas. "We're continuing what we had with John [Klensin] by having an applications person run the IAB."

Currently employed by VeriSign Global Registry Services, Daigle has been involved with the IETF since the mid-1990s. She helped develop a concept called uniform resource identifiers or URIs, which are a key building block of the World Wide Web.

"URIs are as fundamental to the Web as IP addresses are to the Internet," explains Michael Mealling, a coworker of Daigle's at VeriSign and a longtime IETF participant.

Early in her career, Daigle helped write one of the Web's first search engines, called Archie. At the IETF, Daigle co-authored 10 standards-track documents, called Requests for Comments, in such areas as domain names and directory services.

The appointment of Daigle, a Canadian, is also a sign of the increasing internationalization of the Internet engineering community. A year ago, Norwegian Harald Alvestrand was named IETF chair. This is the first time that both of the IETF's most powerful positions are held by non-Americans.

In other news, the IETF has two new area directors. Steve Bellovin, an AT&T researcher who first predicted the phenomenon of distributed denial-of-service attacks, takes over as one of the Security Area directors. Alex Zinen, with start-up Nexsi Systems, joins Bill Fenner, also of AT&T, as the two new Routing Area directors, positions that were unfilled for several months following the sudden death of one director and the unexpected resignation of another.

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