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ICANN Taps Interim Leaders As Transition Begins

Poised to assume control of the domain name and Internet protocol address systems from the U.S. government, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Tuesday announced a new leadership structure.

The group unveiled its slate of interim officers and elected initial board members following weekend meetings in New York.

Michael M. Roberts was elected interim president and chief executive officer and will serve on ICANN's executive committee. Technology advocate Esther Dyson was named interim chairman.

Other members of the group's executive committee include Australian Greg Crew and Hans Kraaijenbrink of The Netherlands, Geraldine Capdeboscq of France, Jun Murai of Japan, Eugenio Triana of Spain, and Americans Linda S. Wilson, George H. Conrades and Frank Fitzsimmons. Initial board members will only serve until the permanent ICANN structure and full board are in place. The group hopes to have that done by next fall.

The private, non-profit group of international Netizens was established by the late Jon Postel and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to administer policies and technical protocols concerning the domain name system. The group moved quickly to establish a transition process following Postel's sudden death Oct. 16.

The board's first meeting included the adoption of basic organizational resolutions. The board did not adopt bylaws, preferring to wait until it weighed issues raised in last week's letter from The National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The NTIA, part of the Department of Commerce, gave its conditional support to ICANN, provided it addressed concerns by critics such as Boston Working Group, the Open Root Server Confederation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Dyson is also a member of EFF's Board of Directors and former chairman.

Dyson said the Board is drafting a response to the Commerce letter regarding ICANN policies and bylaws and expects to deliver a letter within two weeks.

"We hope to begin to discuss the specific terms of a transition agreement with the Commerce Department very soon," Dyson said.

"We hope ICANN can get these preliminary issues resolved quickly, and turn to the long list of important tasks that face us, including the establishment of a final membership structure, the procedures for the election of board members and the recognition and certification of the specialized Supporting Organizations for Addresses, Protocols, and Domain Names that will be the working policy bodies of ICANN."

ICANN said in a statement it chose Roberts because his background, experience and availability meshed with ICANN's needs. Roberts is the former vice president for networking of EDUCOM, an association of more 600 colleges and universities now known as Educause. Roberts was also an organizer and first project director of the Internet2 project, where he incorporated the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID).

"Mike's long background in the networking field, and particularly his experience in starting up significant non-profit organizations in this field, are particularly applicable to what ICANN will need as it completes its initial organizational efforts," Dyson said.

"His reputation and credibility will be important assets for ICANN. He knows most of the relevant people and organizations worldwide, but he is known for being nonpartisan."

Roberts is assume his position immediately. In a statement, he said it is important that the transition from government control be accomplished quickly and efficiently.

"Given the international character of that board, the logistics of this effort will be complex. The initial board needs to quickly make itself available to the entire Internet community, both electronically and in person, so it can be certain to hear and understand the concerns and needs of the community that it is to serve," said Roberts.

ICANN said Roberts is not a candidate for long-term presidency and CEO of the group. The board said it will immediately begin a search process a permanent chief.