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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
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Counting votes BBC
Vote counting has begun in the Icann election
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Voting ends on Tuesday in the first worldwide online election of the web's ruling body.

Since the start of October, net users around the world have been voting to elect five new members of the board of Icann - the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

One of the first tasks facing the board members will be to pick new top-level domain names to complement the suffixes used by websites now, such as .com and .org.

Despite criticism of the election, Icann is planning to do it all again in November to find the last four members of its board.

Electronic election

The election is being run in an attempt to make Icann more representative of the web at large.

Icann was created in October 1998 as a neutral body to take over many of the administrative and technical tasks previously carried out by organisations under contract to the US Government.

The change was supposed to reflect the fact that the internet is now much more than just a plaything for American citizens.

So, in a bid to make itself more representative, Icann has been running an election to find five new directors for its 19-strong board. Some board members have already been chosen by net service providers and networking companies.

Name claims

Each geographical region, Africa, Asia/Australia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America, will get one representative.

The final four board members, who will sit on Icann technical committees, will be elected in November.

One of the jobs for the directors is sifting applications for new domain names. Icann released a list of which companies have applied to run which new domain names in early October.

The directors face a tricky task as many of those applying to run new domains want to claim the same name.

Election coverage

To vote for a candidate, interested web surfers had to register on the Icann website and respond before 8 September with an identification number sent to them in the post.

Icann was expecting about 5,000 people to register. However, almost 160,000 people registered an initial interest in voting. Just over 76,000 managed to negotiate the registration procedure.

Icann has been criticised for the way that it is running the election by organisations such as Icann Watch and the Centre for Democracy and Technology.

Both said the election was biased towards wealthier countries and wasted the chance to create a truly representative electorate.

The election got more coverage in some countries than others. Many German newspapers have written about Icann and one of the favourites to be elected is Andreas Müller-Maguhn, a spokesman for a German hacker group called the Chaos Computer Club.

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See also:

19 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Money for nothing
04 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Paying for the net name
16 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Go-ahead for new web names
04 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Net groups in world wide wrangle
07 Mar 00 | Business registrar sold for $21bn
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