Americans loosen grip on Internet standards body

For the first time in its relatively brief history, the Internet's leading standards-setting body - The Internet Engineering Task Force -- has selected somebody other than an American as its leader. The honour has gone to Norwegian, Harald Alvestrand, a Cisco engineer, who will this month take over from Fred Baker, who is also a Cisco employee. And no, it's not a conspiracy by Cisco to control the IETF, although the company is pleased one of its engineers has again been chosen as the body's chairman, Baker said. "Cisco very much wants the IETF to be independent," he added.

Alvestrand has been an active participant in IETF since the early 1990s and wrote or co-authored 21 of the group's official protocol documents, primarily in the areas of messaging and internationalisation. He is a former director of IETF's Applications Area as well as its Operations and Management Area.

He is just the fifth person to chair the IETF, which was founded in 1986, and believes his biggest challenge will be making sure that the technical work of the task force can proceed at a pace that keeps up with developments in industry. He also wants to ensure that bureaucracies and governments do not create needless obstacles to the use of the Internet as a tool to further communications between people.

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