[ISN] ICANN: Abandon practice of allowing net.users to vote on ICANN board members.

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 23:12:50 PST

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    Forwarded from: Jay D. Dyson <jdysonat_private>
    
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    Courtesy of Rick Forno.
    
    (And if you're not outraged, you'd best check your pulse.)
    
    
    Net standards chief proposes overhaul
    By Reuters 
    February 24, 2002, 9:00 PM PT
    
    
    The president of the Internet's top standards-setting body proposed a
    radical restructuring of the organization on Sunday, hoping to settle
    questions of legitimacy that have dogged it from the start. 
    
    M. Stuart Lynn, president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
    and Numbers (ICANN), suggested at a closed-door board meeting that the
    group abandon the practice of allowing Internet users to elect some board
    members and instead appoint government representatives to represent
    everyday users. 
    
    The move would amount to a fundamental change in the nature of ICANN,
    which was created in 1998 in order to transfer technical management of the
    Internet from the U.S. government to an independent, international body. 
    
    
    Lynn said the overhaul would create a more efficient, stable organization
    that could focus on managing the system that guides Web browsers and
    e-mail around cyberspace, rather than one preoccupied with its own
    internal workings.
    
    Internet users would be better represented through their national
    governments than through expensive global elections that may not attract a
    representative constituency, he said. The move would also provide more
    stable funding, he said. 
    
    "We would use the notions of agility and strength of a private corporation
    with the notion that only governments can represent the public interest," 
    Lynn said.
    
    The plan drew immediate cries of protest from some board members who were
    elected directly by Internet users. 
    
    "We've just had the equivalent of the president of the United States
    abolishing Congress," said Karl Auerbach, who represents North American
    Internet users.
    
    ICANN has overseen several transformations of the Internet's domain-name
    system in its short history. 
    
    Users now can register domain names with suffixes such as ".info" and
    ".biz"  as alternatives to the crowded ".com" domain through a variety of
    domain-name retailers other than Network Solutions, which enjoyed a
    monopoly throughout most of the 1990s. (Network Solutions is now owned by
    VeriSign.)  If disputes arise, they can be settled in a special
    arbitration process. 
    
    But throughout, the organization has faced charges that it makes decisions
    in an arbitrary manner and does not take into account the interests of
    regular Internet users. 
    
    Under its original charter, the 18-seat board of ICANN was to be split
    evenly between the technical groups and businesses that run the Internet,
    and the global network's 500 million users. 
    
    An election in November 2000 filled five of those nine user board seats
    but raised charges of ballot-stuffing and questions of how to run an
    election open theoretically to anyone on the planet. 
    
    ICANN set up a task force a year ago to examine the issue, which
    recommended that the number of user-elected board seats be reduced from
    nine to six, and that only domain-name owners be allowed to vote. The
    board is scheduled to vote on the proposal in three weeks at its quarterly
    meeting in Ghana. 
    
    Lynn's plan goes farther, eliminating user representatives from the board
    entirely. Instead, Lynn proposes reducing the board to 15 members: five
    government representatives, five technical and business representatives,
    and five others who would be nominated by a special committee. 
    
    Lynn said he had not filled in the specifics of his proposal, such as how
    the government board seats would be filled, but that he would like
    decisions to be made quickly. 
    
    "This proposal is focusing on the what, not the how," Lynn said. "What I
    have done is pointed out to the board that we don't have the luxury of
    time."
    
    Auerbach and fellow board member Andy Muller-Maguhn, who represents
    European Internet users, said Lynn's proposal aroused little debate at the
    meeting. 
    
    "I would have expected each board member to have several questions about
    how it would work and so on, but that was not the case," Muller-Maguhn
    said. 
    
    Rob Courtney, a policy analyst with the nonprofit Center for Democracy and
    Technology, said that ICANN was set up because governments were seen as
    too slow and out of touch with modern technology to administer the
    Internet. 
    
    "If you're going to have governments involved, what is the rationale for
    having ICANN?" Courtney said. 
    
    Story Copyright  2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. 
    
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