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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 10:03 GMT
Net body changes leadership rules
People using the internet
How much say should internet users have?
The group that co-ordinates the internet has approved controversial changes to the way it chooses its leadership.

At a meeting in Shanghai, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, (Icann), voted to abandon online elections for half of its directors.

The changes are designed to improve the efficiency of Icann, which is responsible for making key decisions that affect everything from how websites are named to how e-mail is sent.

But critics say the decision will make the body less accountable to the world's 550 million internet users.

'More efficient'

The directors of Icann voted 15-3 to adopt a wide-ranging reform plan designed to end wrangling over how the group should function and who it should represent.


It is very much becoming a body that follows the interests of big business

Karl Auerbach, elected Icann director
"This will make Icann a much more efficient and effective organisation that will get things done better and faster and be more plugged-in to the community than we are now," said the group's president, Stuart Lynn.

He said the body could now focus on managing the internet's Domain Name System, (DNS), which matches up numerical addresses on the global computer network with easy-to-remember names such as www.bbcnews.com.

Mr Lynn argued that the previous system of electing five of the 18 board members over the internet had hindered Icann's work.

Dissenting voices

Under the new system, board seats will be appointed by business and technical groups, and a special nominating committee that will include some public representatives.

It also gives a greater role to national governments.

The changes have angered critics of Icann. They say the reforms are aimed at getting rid of dissenting board members who argue the group is out of touch with internet users.

"Icann is not allowing public participation," said Karl Auerbach, a California consultant who is one of the five popularly elected board members.

"It is very much becoming a body that follows the interests of big business."

The changes to the board of directors are to take affect at Icann's next conference in Amsterdam in December.

See also:

30 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
23 Oct 02 | Technology
07 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
30 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
31 Oct 02 | Technology
01 Nov 02 | Technology
Links to more Technology stories are at the foot of the page.


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