In response to critics, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN) is making structural changes to its domain transition
The group released a letter it sent to the Commerce Department in which it also
requested government approval to allow it to begin the
transition process of the Domain Name System administration.
In the letter addressed to Becky Burr, associate administrator of the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration, ICANN interim chairman Esther Dyson said
the group believes it has fulfilled its charge of being transparent and
fully accountable to the communities it serves.
“We are now asking the U.S. government to officially recognize ICANN, and
the enclosed documents, as the product of a broad, if somewhat laborious,
consensus and to quickly negotiate the necessary transition agreement with
the corporation as governed by these bylaws and further implementing
changes outlined below,” Dyson said.
ICANN hopes the changes will appease critics who were concerned the
organization was not operating openly and wasn’t accountable to the
Internet community. ICANN will establish procedures for having independent
parties review bylaw conflicts and will establish policies to prevent
conflicts of interest and maintain geographic diversity.
ICANN said it amended its bylaws based on the results of comments made by
these groups and government officials, including outgoing presidential
advisor Ira Magaziner.
ICANN held a public meeting Nov.14 in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
seeking input and has scheduled a second open meeting in Brussels for
Among the changes ICANN outlined were:
membership criteria, rights and responsibilities.
meetings scheduled in conjunction with each of the four scheduled regular
board meetings each year.
independent third parties when it is believed that ICANN violated its
bylaws or procedures.
to have at least one representative from each geographic region and will
also require that no more than half of the directors elected by the
supporting organizations will be from a single geographic region.
While some concessions were made, the decision to not open all its meetings
to the public could be a sticking point. Although the new provisions call
for some open meetings, the board meetings themselves will take place
behind closed doors.
“While our formal, voting board meetings will not be public, in order to
foster frank and full discussion, we will publish timely
and complete minutes of our board meetings reporting the votes taken, the
positions of the individual board members on those votes and the arguments
raised and the reasons behind the decisions taken,” Dyson wrote.
In explaining ICANN’s intentions, Dyson stated, “We are not governing the
Net or the people on it. But we are not merely a charity organization,
managing our own resources for our vision of the public benefit. Those who
serve on the ICANN Board will be stewards of public resources and as such,
their positions on important policy and management issues need to be
derived from public consensus, not simply the personal views of the
individuals who happen to serve on the Board at any given time.
“We recognize that we need to respect the public’s direct interest in how
we manage these resources and in policies that affect them and the
disposition of those resources and functions,” Dyson said.