The Canadian chapter of the Internet Society, dormant for over a decade, has been reborn.
On Thursday night ISOC Canada’s last legally elected board of directors — who were chosen in 1996 — voted to transfer control to a new three-person interim board headed by Evan Leibovitch, a communications architect at Toronto’s York University and vice-chair of the public advisory body of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN).
After documents are registered with Industry Canada the interim board –which includes IT consultants Kerry Brown of Vancouver and Glenn McKnight of Toronto — will hold elections soon for a full board and start consulting members on the chapter’s direction.
“This is a process that started two years ago when myself and few other people started working with the Internet Society to find out why there wasn’t a chapter here when there was almost everywhere else,” Leibovitch said in an interview. That led to a new group forming, which was recognized in April by ISOC.
The Internet Society (ISOC) has a number of roles, the biggest of which is to ensure governments around the world keep their hands off the Internet so people have open access. It also sponsors the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which helps develop Internet technical standards.
ISOC has some 65,000 members in 90 chapters around the world. At the moment there are 13 members of its board of trustees, six from the United States.
Most recently it was in the news when along with a number of Internet registries and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) it warned against the possible fragmentation of the Internet following the controversial International Telecommunications Union conference on Internet rules in Dubai.
This week at an ISP conference in Toronto the CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) urged service providers and others to join in lobbying to open Internet’s traditional multi-stakeholder governance and let governments sit at the table of organizations like ICANN and ISOC. Otherwise, he suggested, they may balkanize the Internet.
ISOC has already recognized the newly-revived Canadian chapter and advanced it $1,500 to get off the ground, Leibovitch said in an interview.
A long-time technology writer — he wrote for Computing Canada years ago — and co-founder of the Linux Professional Institute, Leibovitch couldn’t say exactly why the first iteration of the Canadian branch “didn’t work out.” One reason, he guesses, is that the global ISOC administration at the time had no revenue to support its efforts.
ISOC Canada will be incorporated as a not-for-profit agency so it can raise some money through memberships and partnerships.
Lately people here realized that while ISOC was promoting an open Internet there was no Canadian branch. Leibovitch said.
Over the years several Canadians have been on the ISOC’s board, he noted.
Already some 300 people have registered to join the chapter, he added. “Clearly there’s a needing to be met for the kind of educational and policy work we want to do.”