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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:51 GMT
Brit to head net body
New domain list BBC
How new domain names might look
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

A British-born academic has been elected to the top job at the internet's co-ordinating body.

This week, former maths professor M. Stuart Lynn was announced as the new chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). This is the group which oversees many net functions.

Icann made the appointment after 15 months of searching and interviews with 300 candidates.

Few would envy the task facing Dr Lynn because Icann is currently being criticised on many fronts as it tries to expand the internet.

Widening the net

Dr Lynn will take up his position as Icann's chief executive in March. In doing so, he will succeed Michael Roberts.

Dr Lynn was born in Britain and received a BA and MA from Oxford, did his doctorate work at UCLA and is now a naturalised American.

Prior to taking the Icann job, he was chief information officer for the University of California and looked after computer systems covering 10 campuses and serving over 150,000 students.

But for the next two years, he will be co-ordinating the running of the biggest network of all - the internet. Icann is nominally in charge of many net functions, ensuring that all the parts of the system work well together.

Domain disputes

Icann watchers speculate that he got the job because he has a neutral view on most of the issues which are dividing the organisation and polarising its critics.

On taking up the post, he said his job was to instil Icann with a greater feeling of consensus. "It's less important where I stand than how I am able to bring people together," he said.

Dr Lynn added that he has good "geek credentials" because he wrote his first computer program 43 years ago.

His appointment comes at a sensitive time for Icann, which is facing criticism on many fronts. Since it was formed in 1998, commentators have questioned its legitimacy, accused it of pandering to business interests over those of net citizens and of being too US focussed.

Global consequences

Late last year, Icann announced seven new domain names to complement the .com, .org, .edu and the like that are used now. Although Icann chose the new names, the final decision rests with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce.

In mid-January the American Civil Liberties Union wrote to the Department of Commerce questioning whether the selection process should have been more open given that it will have global consequences.

It said the process by which Icann chose the domains was "woefully inadequate by any measure".

Icann is also facing complaints from two organisations who run the net suffixes .biz and .web. Icann has picked .biz as a new domain but doesn't think its current administrator should run it.

Although Icann didn't pick .web as a potential future domain its current administrators are saying they should not be overlooked.

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
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17 Nov 00 | Latest News
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