Fragments - The Internet Protocol Journal - Volume 5, Number 1

ICANN Considers Structural Reform

Stuart Lynn, President and CEO of
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN) recently proposed a sweeping series of structural reforms designed to lead ICANN towards attainment of its core mission. "The current structure of ICANN was widely recognized as an experiment when created three years ago," noted Board Chairman Vint Cert. "The rapid expansion of and increasing global dependence on the Internet have made it clear that a new structure is essential if ICANN is to fulfill its mission."

ICANN was formed three years ago as an entirely private global organization designed to assume responsibility for the DNS root from the U.S. government and to coordinate technical policy for the Internet's naming and address allocation systems. In the new proposals, the basic mission remains intact, but the means of achieving that mission changes. "What has become clear to me and others is that a purely private organization will not work," said Lynn. "The Internet has become too important to national economic and social progress. Governments, as the representatives of their populations, must participate more directly in ICANN's debates and policymaking functions. We must find the right form of global public-private partnership—one that combines the agility and strength of a private organization with the authority of governments to represent the public interest."

Noting that current organizational inertia and obsession with process over substance has impeded agility, Lynn laid out a roadmap designed to instill confidence in key stakeholders and to ensure that ICANN can be more effective. This roadmap entails restructuring the Board of Directors into a Board of Trustees composed in part of trustees nominated by those governments who participate in the ICANN process; in part by the chairs of proposed new "policy councils" that would replace the existing supporting organizations and that would provide expert advice; and in part by trustees proposed by a broadly-based nominating committee and appointed by the Board itself. The roadmap is designed to bring all critical stakeholders to the table, something that has been difficult to achieve with the present structure and has slowed ICANN's progress and its ability to fulfill its responsibilities. It is also designed to establish a broad-based funding mechanism sufficient to support the critical mission of ICANN.

"We need to build a stronger organization, supported by our key stakeholders, led by the best team that can be assembled, and properly funded," Lynn said. "We must be structured to function effectively in this fast-paced global Internet environment." "A key requirement is to keep the best of the present ICANN," added Cerf, "in ensuring transparency, openness, and participation, while creating an ICANN that can act responsibly and quickly. That will mean rejecting practices that have emphasized process over achievement. Above all, ICANN must be—and be seen to be—effective and supportive of technical innovation and of a reliable Internet."

A paper written by Lynn that explains the reasons for change and the roadmap for reform is posted on the ICANN web site:

The Internet Protocol Journal

Ole J. Jacobsen
, Editor and Publisher

Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. Vint Cerf
, Sr. VP, Internet Architecture and Technology WorldCom, USA

Dr. Jon Crowcroft
, Marconi Professor of Communications Systems University of Cambridge, England

David Farber

The Alfred Fitler Moore Professor of Telecommunication Systems University of Pennsylvania, USA

Peter Lothberg
, Network Architect

Stupi AB, Sweden

Dr. Jun Murai
, Professor, WIDE Project

Keio University, Japan

Dr. Deepinder Sidhu
, Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Director, Maryland Center for Telecommunications Research, USA

Pindar Wong
, Chairman and President

VeriFi Limited, Hong Kong

The Internet Protocol Journal
is published quarterly by the Chief Technology Office, Cisco Systems, Inc.

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