ICANN to debate top level domains and transparency issues

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is to address the critical issues of new generic top level domains, internationalised domain names and the organisation's own accountability at a meeting this week.

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is to address the critical issues of new generic top level domains, internationalised domain names and the organisation's own accountability at a meeting this week.

ICANN oversees the Internet's address system and carries the critical responsibility of ensuring the overall security and stability of the internet.

The international public meeting, the second of three ICANN has planned for this year, will also include discussions about a major expansion of available IP addresses, as well as the process for accrediting registrars.

The meeting, which takes place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will also include the first General Assembly of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional At Large Organisation, formed in March.

ICANN is attempting to improve the transparency of its operations and the accountability of its decisions, areas that have been raised regularly by critics. ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey said: "We must ensure we're in the leading edge of transparency and accountability.”

The organisation commissioned an independent study of its transparency and accountability in December from the UK-based One World Trust, which reported its findings in March. It concluded that ICANN was a very transparent organisation but could improve in certain areas, such as explaining better how it uses input from stakeholders when making decisions.

ICANN has been taking steps to address these issues and, earlier this month, issued a response.

The organisation has also released a set of draft principles and frameworks for accountability for discussion at the San Juan meeting.

ICANN wants to make it easier for people to find the vast amount of information on its website, Twomey said.

But ICANN’s transparency and accountability are likely to remain contentious issues until the organisation’s special ties to the US government are broken. Since its creation in 1998 to take on the internet management functions previously handled by the US government, ICANN has been criticised for lacking transparency in its decision making process and for responding disproportionately to US interests.

In September, the memorandum of understanding between the US Commerce Department and ICANN was renewed for three additional years, a disappointment for those who had hoped for ICANN's full autonomy.

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