The Internet Society is an organisation whose stated goal is to "to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world". The Internet Society provides leadership to other Internet organisations who evolve the Internet by developing it's protocols, architecture and hardware of the Internet. The Internet Society provides leadership to the: Internet Architecture Board; Internet Engineering Steering Group; Internet Engineering Task Force; Internet Research Steering Group; and the Internet Research Task Force. The Internet Society also attempts to educate the public 'at large', and gives grants to organisations that increase Internet connectivity. The philosophy of the Internet Society is that the Internet is for everyone, and aims to be the heartbeat of the Internet community.
The technology and ideas that underpin the Internet were invented and developed in the late 1960's. ARPANET was a computer network, developed at ARPA, that was the first American computer network to use packet switching. ARPANET continued to evolve throughout the 1970's: in 1973 Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn began the developed of TCP/IP. TCP/IP would be implemented onto ARPANET in 1983, and is the core protocol of the Internet.
ARPA was an agency of the US Department of Defense: therefore, the technology of the Internet - while being developed by academics - was ultimately funded and 'owned' by the US government. By the late 1980's and early 1990's the US government - persuaded by politicians like Al Gore - decided that the Internet 'was for everyone' and decided to transition ownership of it's backbone networks to commercial companies and development of it's protocols/architecture to an international nonprofit community.
In 1992, the Internet Society was founded by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. The Internet Society was/is responsible for providing leadership in the development of the Internet's technology. Previously this was the responsibility of the US government. The US government funded the creation of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) in 1986: it was this organisation which did the 'hands on' work of developing Internet protocols and standards. In 1993, the Internet Society replaced the US government in providing oversight and leadership for the work conducted by the IEFT.
The Internet Society currently has offices in two locations - as of 2012:
Alongside offices in North America and Europe, the Internet Society also has 'chapters' in: Africa, Asia, and Latin (South and Central) America. The Internet Society was formed with a corporate framework: which comprises a board of trustees. The current (2012) board of trustees are international in scope: Eric Burger from the US; Eva Frolich from Sweden; Philip Smith from Australia; Raul Echeberría from Uruguay; and Alain Aina from Benin, West Africa. The Internet Society aims to provide an open and collaborative approach, where people from across the globe can 'come together' to devise technology, policy, and development.