By: Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer
(AP) The president of the Internet’s oversight body recommended a major restructuring, saying the goal of leaving the Net in private hands has proven unworkable.
The new structure calls for governments to nominate one-third of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the private organization chosen in 1998 to take over the Net’s management responsibilities from the U.S. government.
“I am now convinced that the original desire to avoid a totally governmental takeover … led to an overreaction — the choice of a totally private model,” Stuart Lynn, ICANN’s president, said Sunday.
But he said the private model is unworkable “because it leaves ICANN isolated from the real-world institutions — governments — whose backing and support are essential.”
ICANN is in charge of coordinating the Internet’s addressing policies, including those for domain names.
It has faced questions about its legitimacy from the beginning. Longtime Internet users accuse ICANN of being beholden to corporate interests, while administrators of domain names around the world have refused to recognize ICANN’s authority and pay dues.
The proposal, which came during a weekend closed-door retreat, is likely to face significant opposition from public-interest groups, particularly for eliminating direct participation by Internet users.
Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami law professor who runs an ICANN watchdog site, called the proposal misguided and said it would reduce “to even greater impotence the people who ask troubling questions.”
Currently, five of the 19 board members are elected by the general Internet community.
Under the new plan, the board would consist of 15 members: one third nominated by governments, one-third through a committee process, and the rest consisting of ICANN’s president and appointments by four policy and technical groups.
ICANN’s next public meetings are scheduled for March 10-14 in Accra, Ghana.