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ICANN board adopts reform plan, ditches elections

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The board of the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers on Friday unanimously approved an internal reform plan that dramatically changes how directors are selected and how internet domain name policies are made.

The proposals, which are set to be honed and possibly enacted at the organization's next quarterly meeting, call for the abolition of board seats elected by the internet-using public, and the establishment instead of a Nominating Committee that selects directors from industry luminaries.

The board voted 18 to 0 to approve a plan that was created by a committee of four directors and was published two weeks ago. The director most likely to oppose the resolution, Karl Auerbach, who himself was elected by North American internet users, was not present at the meeting in Bucharest, Romania.

The resolution calls for the Evolution and Reform Committee to come up with an implementation plan that will be presented to the board for approval at its next meeting in Shanghai, China in late October. In the meantime, the ERC has had its remit modified somewhat to take into account additional concerns.

The committee will now have to come up with measures to ensure the geographic and cultural diversity of "all parts of ICANN's structure". ICANN is legally a California non-profit corporation, and gets its power from the US government, but it is widely expected to fail if it cannot secure the support of international domain bodies.

The resolution also directs the committee to come up with a way to replace the so-called At Large board directors with an alternative way of allowing formal public input in policymaking. The committee is directed to "consider the creation of an At Large Advisory Committee as a potential vehicle for informed participation in ICANN by the broad user community," the resolution says.

Critics, including sections of the US government, have recently expressed concerns that ICANN should be more transparent and publicly accountable. And there are legions of ICANN participants who believe the reform proposals are merely a mechanism for ICANN insiders, government, and corporate interests to get more power.

Given the unhappiness recently expressed about the reforms by the three critical Regional Internet Registries (the organizations that manage the allocation of IP addresses in coordination with ICANN), the resolution also contains instructions for the ERC to take more direction from "critical infrastructure providers and the technical community to further the establishment of effective working relationships".

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