Nonprofit to Fund ICANN Election

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers is expected to announce later Tuesday that the Markle Foundation has agreed to fund the general election which will fill half of the slots on the group’s board of directors.

The foundation has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. Eastern time where Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird is expected to announce the backing. ICANN has asked the foundation for as much as $200,000 to fund the election of about 5,000 at-large board members which will consist of Internet users around the world.

The at-large members, which will be announced at ICANN’s meeting next week in Los Angeles, will elect nine ICANN directors next year which will double the organization’s board to 18. The only requirements for at-large members are verifiable citizenship, physical and e-mail addresses and the ability to pay an undetermined membership fee.

Markle has in the past criticized ICANN, accusing the board of being too heavily influenced by large corporations that had a vested interest in the group’s decisions.

ICANN has been frequently criticized for not opening its membership to a greater portion of the Internet community. At the same time the group, which administers the Internet’s domain system, has been struggling to make ends meet financially.

ICANN most recently faced criticism from the Small Business Administration and the Office of Advocacy. The two groups said ICANN should adopt new procedures that would ensure an open decision-making process.

At the same time, the SBA was critical of an ICANN proposal to modify its bylaws so that new policies could be implemented if board members are absent. The SBA asked ICANN to put the item on its agenda for this week, but ICANN President Mike Roberts said it would not be added. He did say the issue might be discussed.

The group also wants ICANN to do a better job of notifying the public of impending meetings and actions under consideration and to also extend the public comment period before proposed changes are implemented.

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