ICANN boss: international domain system in peril

ICANN logoThe CEO of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) offered a stern warning on Tuesday, telling an Internet forum that agency's mission is "under threat."

If governance of ICANN, "were to become the exclusive province of nation states or [be] captured by any other interests, we would lose the foundation of the Internet's long-term potential and transformative value," Rod Beckstrom warned an audience in Vilnius, Lithuania.

"Decisions on its future should reflect the widest possible range of views and the wisdom of the entire world community," he added, "not just governmental organizations."

ICANN coordinates the world's domain name and Internet address system. Until late last year the United States Department of Commerce mostly oversaw the agency's activities. In September that system was replaced with a new agreement that gives ICANN's own internationally advised Government Advisory Committee more of a say in the process.

But it appears that Beckstrom is a bit nervous about where this could go, warning of various parties who "want to bring Internet governance into the framework of intergovernmental organizations exclusively." That prospect could shut businesses, service providers, consumers, and non-profits "out of the governance debate," he warned.

"Make no mistake, if we do not address this now —effectively, together—the multistakeholder model that enabled so many successes will slip from our grasp. We must work in partnership to continue the innovation and openness that are hallmarks of the multistakeholder model."

All apprehensions aside, ICANN has been doing quite a bit of DNS fast tracking of late, approving an array of Chinese country-specific domain names, with specific, Chinese script names for the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Beckstrom says that since last year's rollout of ICANN's International Domain Name fast tracking process, the agency has received over 30 requests for names in 22 languages.

"Fourteen have been delegated and more will be soon," he told the forum. "The 22 include Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts, together used by over 1.5 billion people worldwide."

Source: ars technica


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