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ICANN Ends Board Elections

November 01, 2002|From Associated Press

The group that oversees Internet addresses finalized changes Thursday that end direct elections to its board of directors -- a move critics say could make the group indifferent to ordinary users and hurt innovation.

The steps are part of an organizational overhaul meant to improve the efficiency of the nonprofit Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is based in Marina del Rey.

The changes were approved by a 15-3 vote on the final day of a conference on Internet addresses this week in Shanghai.

"This will make ICANN a much more efficient and effective organization that will get things done better and faster and be more plugged in to the community than we are now," Chief Executive Stuart Lynn told reporters after a board meeting.

Lynn and others said the group's former method of electing five of the 18 board members bogged ICANN down in debates that held up its main work -- making decisions that affect everything from how Web sites are named to how e-mail is sent.

The board had approved the framework of the reorganization earlier, and this week's meeting was largely about filling in the details, including approving the new bylaws.

Under the new system, the board is to be picked by a nominating committee and a trio of affiliated organizations representing groups of address holders. The changes are to take effect at an ICANN conference in Amsterdam in December.

Critics said the revisions were aimed at getting rid of dissenting board members who say the group is out of touch with Internet users.

"ICANN ... is not allowing public participation," said Karl Auerbach, a California consultant who is one of the five elected board members. He voted against the changes.

"It is very much becoming a body that follows the interests of big business," Auerbach added. He said the group had become an aggressive protector of corporate copyrights on the Internet and was becoming irrelevant to ordinary users.

ICANN has authority over domain names -- the suffixes such as ".com" and ".org" at the end of Internet addresses -- through a 1998 agreement with the U.S. government.

The board also approved a plan that could require regional registries to pay the world body more for each address that they register. The money will help fund ICANN efforts to coordinate and fight hacker attacks.

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