Board Takes Feedback on ICANN Reform

Board directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN) took feedback from attendees at its Bucharest, Romania, meeting
Thursday on the eve of an important vote officials hope will reform a
“failed” organization.

The topic of ICANN reform was one of several issues up for comment at a
press conference held Thursday by Stuart Lynn, ICANN president and chief
executive officer.

Lynn said the open forum session was “packed,” with more than 500 people
attendees who listened to various critics and supporters of the reform
process he originally commissioned
back in February.

Hans Klein, chairman of the Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility, thinks it’s likely ICANN’s board of directors will do
what’s in their best interests, regardless of outside opinion.

“The question is not what is ICANN going to do, but what is the U.S.
government going to do?” he said. “Maybe ICANN is going to steamroll
Congress and the Department of Commerce; it seems we are heading towards a
confrontation between ICANN and the U.S. government and I wonder if the
government will back down.”

While the feedback gave interested parties a chance to chime in with their
proposals and concerns, the outcome of Friday’s vote is likely already made
— at least, in the minds of ICANN’s board of directors, who will propose
their own modifications and suggestions to Lynn’s reform proposal.

“My sense is (the board of directors) want to approve something tomorrow so
they can move forward,” Lynn said. “The (memorandum of understanding with
the U.S. Department of Commerce) comes up in September, so they want to
have something in place by then. Of course, there will always be
adjustments, if something doesn’t work, the board can make the necessary
changes at that time.

“I can’t predict what the outcome of the vote will be as far as possible
changes,” he continued. “I know its going to be a very late night tonight
as directors assimilate what they’ve heard today; we’ll just have to wait
and see.”

The details, outside of a revamped board of director composition, seem
sketchy. In a popular ICANN blog Web
site
that follows the events of the organization, author Bret Fausett
commented on the report Alejandro Pisanty, chairman of the ICANN evolution
and reform committee, made to the board of directors Thursday.

“Mr. Pisanty calls the Blueprint a skeleton. He’s right. And the work to
put flesh on these bones is going to take even more effort than it’s taken
to get to this point. The details are always more difficult than the broad
principles.

Lynn’s reform proposal has been met with both vocal and critical protest by
watchdog organizations who call ICANN a “failed”
experiment
and the U.S.
Congress
. Lynn defends the reformed board of director makeup — made up
of business and
government interests
— as truly representative of individual Internet
users.

At issue is the proposed 25 cent tax on all domain name registrations to
help fund ICANN’s operations. Critics maintain that individuals who are
paying a tax to the organization should have some say in the
decision-making process.

Lynn countered that elected politicians are the “truest form of individual
participation.”

Anther topic mentioned in the open forum was the issue of a decision over
who would take over the .org registration when the contract with VeriSign
(NASDAQ QUOTE:VSRN) expires. So far, 11 bidders are vying for the lucrative
registry business.

.org suitors had until June 18 to submit
their proposals
.

Lynn said no action is planned for Friday’s meeting with the board
directors, but the winner would be named prior to its next meeting in
Shanghai, China, Oct. 27-31.

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