ICANN rewrites its rule book

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The Internet's peak self-regulatory body, ICANN, has changed the rules governing the election of its board members, attracting criticism from analysts who say the changes make the group less accountable.

The changes end the direct election of some ICANN board members. Previously five of the 18 board members had been elected, with the rest appointed on regional basis by country-level Internet regulatory bodies.

The governance overhaul is meant to improve the efficiency of the not-for-profit International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the group's chief executive Stuart Lynn said. The changes were made at a meeting of the ICANN board in Shanghai yesterday.

“This will make ICANN a much more efficient and effective organization that will get things done better and faster and be more plugged-in to the community than we are now,” Lynn said.

Lynn said the previous method of electing five of the ICANN board members had been a distraction – with the board devoting too much time debating the election.

Under the new system, the board will be picked by a nominating committee and a trio of affiliated organizations representing groups of address holders. The changes will come into effect at the next ICANN conference in December.

Some critics claim the changes were put into effect to get rid of some dissenting members of the board, and claim that the board is out of touch with Internet end-users.

The chief criticism is that the ICANN board has left the Internet enthusiasts behind, and only represented the interests of big business, in particular in protecting corporate copyrights on the Internet.

Other critics complain that ICANN has not yet come to grips with how to deal with the regional authorities that deal with the second-level domains, like .au or .us. These regional and country bodies have been lobbying for greater autonomy and resent having to pay dues to ICANN.

The ICANN board has also approved a plan that could require regional registries to pay the world body more for each address that they register.

The ICANN board has also approved a plan that could require regional registries to pay the world body more for each address that they register.

The money would be used to help ICANN's ability to coordinate and fight hacker attacks, like last week's 'denial of service' assault on the 13 computers scattered around the globe that store directories of online addresses and direct traffic on the Internet.

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