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ICANN Passes New Bylaws to Answer Critics

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) late Friday revised its bylaws to answer critics who said the board was not doing enough to keep the public informed and that its leadership structure did not reflect the Internet's global reach.

The group also told the Department of Commerce it is ready to begin the transfer process of the Domain Name System administration from U.S. government control to the private sector.

The following is a list of new bylaws adopted:

  • ICANN is to be a membership organization, with board members elected from four separate membership pools, including three specialized supporting organizations and an "at large" membership.
  • ICANN will be financially and otherwise accountable to those it serves.
  • ICANN's decision-making will be open, with minutes of each ICANN Board, supporting organization or committee meeting to be publicly posted within 21 days following every meeting.
  • The initial board will create a conflicts of interest policy covering all ICANN institutions, including the supporting organizations.
  • ICANN's permanent governance structure will be globally representative.
  • ICANN will respect each nation's sovereign control over its individual top level domain.

ICANN, born from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), established by the late Jon Postel, said it expects the transition to take a year. The initial board of ICANN, announced Oct. 27, is working on a permanent governing structure that will have member-elected directors.

On Oct. 21, concerns were raised by the Commerce Department's J. Beckwith Burr, acting associate administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration about the membership of ICANN's board, among other points. Burr's issues echoed concerns by other groups including The Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Boston Working Group.

"The bylaws we adopted and submitted today were arrived at after careful evaluation of Ms. Burr's letter, extensive consultations with the Boston Working Group and the Open Root Server Confederation, the two groups specifically mentioned by the NTIA in its letter, and discussions with many other interested groups and individuals," said Esther Dyson, ICANN's interim chairman.

"Mike Roberts, our interim president, the other members of the board and I all recognize, however, that such consultations must and will continue as we move through this long, unprecedented and intensely important process. We're all determined to get this right," Dyson said.

A number of open ICANN meetings are scheduled internationally, the first slated for Nov. 14 in Cambridge, Mass. ICANN board members also expect to attend a meeting of the European Panel of Brussels on Nov. 25. Another open meeting will be held in Asia in the near future. Further details about the Cambridge meeting are available at IANA's site.

Dyson said in her letter to the Commerce Department that the ICANN's bylaws are a work in progress.

"We will carefully consider any and all suggestions for improvement as we move forward in this process. Nobody should operate under the illusion that any issue has been resolved 'once and for all.'"

"Similarly, nobody should feel that issues that are important to them and have not been addressed to their satisfaction cannot be revisited. The process is just beginning," Dyson said.