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ICANN President Recommends a Roadmap for Reform

Marina del Rey, California USA (24 February 2002) At the ICANN Board of Directors retreat held over the weekend of 23 February, President Stuart Lynn proposed a sweeping series of structural reforms for ICANN. These reforms, designed to lead ICANN towards attainment of its core mission, were carefully discussed by the Board. Board directors encouraged Lynn to post the proposed reforms for public review and comment.

"The current structure of ICANN was widely recognized as an experiment when created three years ago," noted Board Chairman Vint Cerf. "The rapid expansion of and increasing global dependence on the Internet have made it clear that a new structure is essential if ICANN is to fulfill its mission."

ICANN was formed three years ago as an entirely private global organization designed to assume responsibility for the DNS root from the United States government and to coordinate technical policy for the Internet's naming and address allocation systems. In the new proposals, the basic mission remains intact. What changes is the means of achieving that mission.

"What has become clear to me and others is that a purely private organization will not work," said Lynn. "The Internet has become too important to national economic and social progress. Governments, as the representatives of their populations, must participate more directly in ICANN's debates and policymaking functions. We must find the right form of global public-private partnership - one that combines the agility and strength of a private organization with the authority of governments to represent the public interest."

Noting that current organizational inertia and obsession with process over substance has impeded agility, Lynn laid out a roadmap designed to instill confidence in key stakeholders and to ensure that ICANN can be more effective. This roadmap entails restructuring the Board of Directors into a Board of Trustees composed in part of trustees nominated by those governments who participate in the ICANN process; in part by the chairs of proposed new "policy councils" that would replace the existing supporting organizations and that would provide expert advice; and in part by trustees proposed by a broadly-based nominating committee and appointed by the Board itself.

The roadmap is designed to bring all critical stakeholders to the table, something that has been difficult to achieve with the present structure and has slowed ICANN's progress and its ability to fulfill its responsibilities. It is also designed to establish a broad-based funding mechanism sufficient to support the critical mission of ICANN.

"We need to build a stronger organization, supported by our key stakeholders, led by the best team that can be assembled, and properly funded," Lynn told the Board at its retreat. "We must be structured to function effectively in this fast-paced global Internet environment" "A key requirement is to keep the best of the present ICANN," added Cerf, "in ensuring transparency, openness, and participation, while creating an ICANN that can act responsibly and quickly. That will mean rejecting practices that have emphasized process over achievement. Above all, ICANN must be - and be seen to be - effective and supportive of technical innovation and of a reliable Internet."

A paper written by Lynn that explains the reasons for change and the roadmap for reform is posted on the ICANN web site.

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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."