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The internet's CEO signs up for three more years

ICANN head Paul Twomey surprises all

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The CEO of internet overseeing body ICANN, Paul Twomey, has signed a three-year extension to his employment contract, it was announced this morning in Marrakech.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the tri-annual ICANN meeting in Morocco, father of the internet Vint Cerf surprised the international crowd by saying Twomey has been "re-enlisted" for another two years and had an option of another year. Most internet observers had expected Twomey to stand down some time next year.

No details of the contract's terms or renumeration have yet been released. Twomey has overseen a near quadrupling of ICANN's budget to a proposed $30.1m next year. This has coincided with controversial deals he has struck recenty, in particular the decision to award the contract to run dotcom back to VeriSign on preferential terms.

Dr Twomey was previously head of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee and took over as CEO in March 2003 in order to plot the organisation's route through a crucial period of review by international governments. That review largely ended in November 2005, when the World Summit in Tunis announced it would continue to view ICANN as the de facto authority over the internet. It was widely expected that Twomey would leave once ICANN had renewed its vital contract with the US government in September this year.

Twomey's back-room diplomacy helped ICANN remain intact through a series of tough international negotiations in which most governments had been calling for the organisation to be broken up or reformed. However, the process also made him a large number of enemies from governmental as well as the technical community. By staying on, Twomey will now have to face a large number of controversial issues concerning the internet that need to be tackled in the next few years.

Vint Cerf drew reference to the challenge facing Twomey, pointing out that under clause 6.1d in his new contract, in event that the CEO was mentally unable to conduct business, he could be dismissed by the Board. "By agreeing to serve for another three years, he's already fulfilled the provisions," Cerf joked.

Moroccan prime minister Driss Jetou opened the ceremony in the Palais de Congres, taking the opportunity to announce a new national programme for Morroco that will see a computer room put into every high school in the country.®

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