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ICANN President Announces Retirement Plan

Controversial Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) President and Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lynn announced Tuesday his intention to retire when his term is due up next year.

Lynn has been the subject of considerable ire among advocates for a "free" Internet. In the almost two years Lynn has been chief of ICANN, the U.S. root server responsible for policy affecting the .com, .net, .org and the seven new top-level domains (TLDs), he's been criticized for continuing a trend of bureaucratic micro- management.

"I immensely enjoy my position and working with my colleagues and the community to accomplish ICANN's mission," he said in a released statement. "But this is a 7 day-a-week, 24 hours-per-day job and I now need to pay attention to my personal life and health."

Lynn announced his intentions to retire one year before his two-year contract expired to give ICANN's board of directors ample time to find a replacement and provide a smooth transition of power.

According to Mary Hewitt, ICANN spokesperson, the board of directors has established a search committee to find Lynn's replacement before he leaves next March. Hopefully time enough, she said, for one final piece of business on ICANN's agenda.

"By (March 2003), hopefully, the reform process will have shaken out and been completed," she said.

It might be his final item on the agenda before leaving, but certainly not Lynn's least important. In fact, his efforts between now and next March will likely determine how history writers will treat the oft-maligned executive.

ICANN has drawn fire from individuals and groups representing the "common" Internet users since its inception in the 1990s. Whether it's the organization's decision to keep its 'board squatters' in power, approving (or disapproving) new TLDs or raising the fees to keep the organization afloat, watchdog groups have been hounding its directors and namely its boss -- Lynn.

Until recently, ICANN has been given carte blanche to conduct its affairs in the manner its sees best under the terms of its contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), which awarded ICANN authority over .com and other U.S. root server domain extensions. But Lynn's recent proposal to revamp ICANN has met with not only advocate outrage, but Congressional scrutiny.

Andrew McLaughlin, ICANN vice president and chief policy officer, also announced his decision to retire, but on July 1, though he will work part-time to ensure a smooth transition. McLaughlin is returning to Harvard Law School's Berman Center for Internet & Society.

"Both Stuart and Andrew have made extraordinary contributions to ICANN," said Vint Cerf, ICANN board chairman. "We are relying on them both to continue their diligent work on ICANN's behalf until these transitions have run their full course."