Feeds

ICANN's man in Europe bows out

Paul Verhoef gives us an exit interview

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Internet overseeing organisation ICANN still has problems but it will come out of the UN's upcoming review into Internet governance with flying colours, the organisation's man in Europe, Paul Verhoef has predicted on the eve of his departure.

As the first staff member located outside of California, Verhoef has played a vital role in getting ICANN accepted globally. Seconded by the European Union in January 2004, he has been on the frontline as European governments have started to ask big questions about the Internet and domain registry owners continued to express their reservations.

With a very difficult patch coming up for ICANN, he himself admit that the timing is "far from perfect", but as from today he will head the European Commission's largest-ever project - the 3.5 billion euro Galileo satellite network, an upgraded version of the US' global positioning system (GPS). "Dream is a big word, but you can understand it's not something you really want to turn down," he modestly explained.

We had an exit interview with him.

What do you know about ICANN that you wished others did?

"Well, the most interesting thing for me was that it has been the subject of the most intense political scrutiny for the past three or four years. And it is going to come out of it very well.

"It has taken governments until a couple of years ago to realise that the Internet was important and when they started paying attention, the first knee-jerk reaction was 'well, we are going to need to control it'. I think that is being overcome - not quite yet, but we are getting there.

"I see it as an entirely new model where governments and private sector and civil society work together, where none of the three has a defined supremacy or primary role but where there is a genuine attempt between the three sides to decide what is the best way forward. Compromises are going to be needed and they are going to be complex - technically, economically and politicially.

"I think the whole difficulty is that people have no experience with this new model but I think understanding is growing that such a new model is necessary."

What do you feel has been your biggest achievement in the job?

"Successfully setting up the first international office. The very fact that this was done and people have been able to work in the same time zone - in Europe, in the Arab countries and particularly in Africa - and work in their languages, has contributed immensely in people feeling they have communication with ICANN. I would hope that ICANN moves very quickly to do that in other regions because I know there is an enormous demand for it.

"Obviously one of the more political manifestations at the moment is that ICANN is seen as a US organisation with links to the US government and based in Los Angeles, but ICANN has gone from a US organisation to an Anglo-Saxon one, and the next extremely important step will have to be from Anglo-Saxon to truly International."

What does the future hold in store for ICANN after the World Summit [on the Information Society] (WSIS)?

[Background: The second world summit on IT will take place in September this year, during which a consensus is expected to be reached on how the Internet should be run in the future. ICANN's entire future depends on it.]

"My assumption is that after the Summit things will go a lot better. At the moment there is a lot of positioning by people because they think they will still be able to influence the Summit to come out in their favour. I don't think this is very likely. I think the Summit will come up with some general language, I don't even think they will name ICANN in particular.

"But once the summit is over and ICANN has come out with flying colours, people will realise this is the place to be for these particular issues so we'd better go and make it work there because there is no other place."

What about the ongoing problem with country-code domains?

[Background: Nearly every major country domain (e.g. .uk and .de) has refused to join ICANN's representative body (the ccNSO) until changes are made that give them greater autonomy.]

"We have advanced a great amount. There are still one or two problems but I am not too worried about it. ICANN is under no illusion that it is going to make everyone happy, but we are steadily moving forward. Changing the bylaws will allow the majority of the Europeans to come on board, so I would say that in a year, that most of them would have done so."

What about continued accusations that ICANN is overly secretive and opaque?

"I cannot subscribe to that. I see it more of people not being aware of the processes. We have seen recently on .xxx [the controversial new domain recently approved for sex sites], people have been saying 'well, if we had known about it, we would have never allowed it'. The problem is the .xxx proposal has been in front of ICANN for 18 months , it has been published on the website, it has been the subject of press releases, there have been updates on it, any movement on it has been reported publicly - what more can we do?"

What advice to your have for your successor?

"You need to travel, you need to talk to people, you need to create relationships where people feel they have a link into the organisation, that they can talk to people, get rid of their frustrations and their issues and really listen to them and do our best to involve them in the process."

ICANN is advertising for a replacement for Paul Verhoef if you fancy the job.

Related stories

Bush administration annexes internet
VeriSign given control of .net until 2011
New domains must protect trade marks, says WIPO
EC tells Europe and ICANN to make peace

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.