ICANN chief refutes US control

G12 council not the answer

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom

The new Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) chief has poured cold water on claims the organisation is resisting a break from alleged US oversight.

Incoming CEO Rod Beckstrom said at the Sydney ICANN meeting that he does not have a “fixed form opinion” but is confident that an “optimistic” resolution will be passed.

The comments follow a call last month by European Union society commissioner Viviane Reding for US President Barack Obama to break the country's ties with ICANN. The group has operated under a Joint Project Agreement (JPA)/Memorandum of Understanding since its formation in 1998 with the US Department of Commerce and has continued to renew the deal.

Reding and other argue the JPA provides the US with oversight of ICANN and have appealed for the deal to be dropped when it expires on September 30 this year.

ICANN board chair Peter Dengate Thrush, also Beckstram's "boss", told Computerworld Reding's call for the creation of a group of 12 nations to oversee the group will be ineffective.

“What we would see is an eventual replication of the existing ICANN structure,” Thrush said.

“People will see these country heads as figures of power and will want to move closer to them... the organisational structural will then be mirrored under the G12.

"The JPA makes no difference to oversight... we need accountabilty from the community, ISPs and the media, not from some outside aloof business or governments."

The desire to end the JPA is not exclusive to European registrars, Thrush said, but would not confirm the likelihood that the deal will not be renewed.

Other regional internet registries have argued the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which operates as a forum for government and consumer interests and concerns, should be given greater power.

While ICANN has become more transparent to its constituencies since the introduction of an independent decision arbitrator and group ombudsman, Thrush conceded accountability in the organisation “is not good enough” and will be improved.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which coordinates the DNS Root, and Internet Protocol addresses, will remain under contract with the US government irrespective of the outcome of the JPA, and is up for review in 2011.

Beckstram said his history of coordinating conflicting government agencies and directing the high-profile CEO Peace Network has provided him with valuable insight into organisational structures. Last year, he headed the US National Cybersecurity Center in the Department of Homeland Security where he spearheaded cooperation between the Attorney General and a number of government defence organisations created in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and previously served on the senior advisory group for the Director of National Intelligence.

The decentralisation of ICANN is “like nothing else in history”, Beckstram said, adding he is well-suited to the CEO job given his experience in the decentralised Peace Network that is “modelled on Al Qaeda”, and the “intense inter-agency heat” of Washington.

Beckstram serves on the Environmental Defense Fund board and the Jamii Bora Trust.

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