ICANN CEO: The Road Ahead is Paved with Tweets

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number), the group that helps to oversee the governance of the Internet, strives to be an open and transparent organization. It’s a goal that ICANN CEO Rob Beckstrom said he takes very seriously and is now using Twitter as part of the effort.

Beckstrom spoke Thursday at the .ORG Forum on the future of ICANN. It’s a future where the role that ICANN plays in the stability, security and ongoing operation of the Internet is changing, especially in the new era of ICANN’s independence from the U.S.. Beckstrom explained how he sees ICANN’s governance role and how ICANN can help bridge the gap between nations in the interest of an effective and secure Internet that works for all humans.

ICANN CEO Rob Beckstrom “Just this week I’ve been criticized for Twittering too much and sharing too much information,” Beckstrom said. “Well I have news for anyone that seeks to criticize me for sharing information openly on Twitter – there is much more to come. Transparency is important.”

Beckstrom stressed during his talk that the Internet has been successful because of its openness and multi-party stakeholder system. As of late 2009, ICANN no longer operates at the whim of the U.S. Department of Commerce, but is an independent entity responsible to multiple parties including the people and nations that use the Internet.

In the new ICANN model, Beckstrom noted there is both centralized and de-centralized control. The model is a mix that includes government participation, but he said governments are not dominant forces at ICANN. The GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) at ICANN now includes over 90 members including the U.S., Russia and China.

Beckstrom also tried to explain the key role that ICANN plays in the Internet ecosystem. In his view it’s not about governing the Internet.

“ICANN’s role is as the policy and co-ordination body for names, numbers, DNS and the publishing of parameters and protocols,” Beckstrom said. “Many parties look to us to do more than what we can do as though we are the ones that are running the Internet.”

Battling botnets

That said, ICANN does have working relationships with most domain registries and many national governments. It’s a position of Internet governance that ICANN used to its advantage in helping to combat the Conficker botnet in 2009.

Beckstrom noted that Conficker was very decentralized and it wasn’t clear where the botnet was coming from or where it was going. He said ICANN was asked to play a role in fighting Conficker which included bringing other countries into the effort to combat the botnet.

“ICANN through its relationship with the country code top level domain operators from each country has working relationships with every single country in the world,” Beckstrom said. “We’re in neutral space around the functioning of the DNS and were asked to get other countries. We were able to bring 100 countries into battle against Conficker in two months.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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