ICANN committee refines governance reform proposals

International

A special committee appointed by the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has issued its recommendations for governance reform. The committee adopted some of the recommendations made by President Stuart Lynn in February, but rejected his proposal that governments be given seats on the board in lieu of voting by internet users worldwide. Lynn was criticized for proposing to eliminate the at-large positions which were intended to give the world's 500 million users a direct voice in ICANN (see ICANN president proposes controversial governance reforms).

The committee's recommendations, like Lynn's, assign seven seats on the ICANN board to the heads of organizations representing domain name sellers, security experts, government delegates, and other established technical and commercial groups. Another five to seven seats would be chosen by a nominating committee to represent the internet community as a whole. (The recommendations do elaborate on the composition of the nominating committee.)

The committee consists of four members of the ICANN board, but its recommendations state that it does not represent the official views of the board (although the recommendations were released just five days after the board met to coordinate its approach on the issue). The committee has expressed hope that a governance reform plan will be approved at ICANN's meeting in Bucharest this week.

While the ICANN committee's recommendations represent a new direction, Lynn's suggestion that government re-enter the picture may not go away easily. Many legislators have been displeased with the governance of ICANN and others are baffled by how the organization makes decisions. One thing is clear - if ICANN fails to reorganize its governance soon, the likelihood increases that those who want government intervention will prevail.

Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP, New York

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