Vito Peter Jokubaitis wrote on June 12, 1997 on the IETF mailing list:

MEMBERSHIP: The "little m" designation refers to non-governmental (i.e., private sector) members of the ITU Sectors (e.g., AT&T and MCI are "little m" members of the ITU-T). Only governments can be "Big M" Members of the ITU (and of its Sectors). The "little m" designation is proposed to be changed to "Sector Member," but this action is still pending. The ITU Council admitted ISOC to "little m" membership in the ITU Sectors (where the real technical work gets done anyway), not the ITU, in 1995.

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION: Regarding communications between the ITU-T Study Groups and the IETF, an ITU-T Recommendation A.4, entitled "Communication Process between ITU-T and Forums and Consortia," was approved by the World Telecommunications Standards Conference (WTSC) of the ITU-T on 10/19/96. This process includes a procedure for qualifying a forum or consortium before establishment of a liaison relationship with the ITU-T; the procedure addresses questions like the openness of the forum's or consortium's standardization process. The qualification procedure was used during the last so-called study period of the ITU-T (1993-1996) to qualify, for example, the ATM Forum. When I checked with the Chief Counsellor of the ITU-T very recently, I discovered that the IETF has not been qualified under Recommendation A.4. He expressed the view that there was no need to do so, since he believed that any input to the ITU-T from the IETF could be made in the form of a contribution (roughly equivalent to an Internet-Draft in IETF terminology) whose source would be the ISOC. After we got off the phone, it occurred to me that a few liaison statements have gone in both directions between IETF working groups and ITU-T Study Groups, which is a strange way of operating, since you don't normally communicate with one of your own members by liaison statement. On the one hand it looks like the ITU-T is treating IETF as a member and on the other hand as a standards forum. Vito P. Jokubaitis