ICANN Opens Doors To Volunteers

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced this week that it is accepting volunteers for its Membership Implementation Task Force, which will help establish a membership base from which nine of ICANN’s 19 directors are elected.

ICANN is accepting 100-word “expressions of interest” in the membership task force positions via e-mail through December 21st. Applicants must provide information about their professional background and how they believe they can help the Membership Implementation Task Force.

Ensuring Global Participation

The task force is charged with creating a “broad, diverse, and globally representative” at large membership for ICANN, which was established a year ago by the U.S. Department of Commerce to take registration of Internet domain names out of the federal government’s hands.

Since the group oversees domain name registration for the whole world, ICANN formed the membership group to develop outreach and recruitment efforts to ensure that the organization is truly global in representation.

Specifically, the membership group will investigate, design, test and implement new member registration and election strategies — including membership authentication and online voting procedures — to bring a minimum of 5,000 people into the organization. The membership group will help organize ICANN’s At-Large Council, an 18-member body that will, in turn, elect nine members to sit on ICANN’s board of directors.

To ensure a global outlook, the At-Large Council will include up to 10 members from each of five geographic regions, with no two of the 10 coming from the same country. The other eight seats will have no geographic restrictions.

The membership group will plan for independent oversight of the initial At-Large Council election and propose a permanent funding mechanism for the at-large membership. The Membership Task Force presents an opportunity for individuals or companies to have an impact on the balance of power and representation of various points of view on Internet policy.

The ICANN board agreed earlier this year to develop its at-large membership based on four criteria. Members will be individuals, not entire companies or organizations, and they will bear the full cost of their membership in ICANN. In addition, at-large directors elected from that group “should be geographically diverse and broadly representative of the Internet user community,” ICANN said.

They will not necessarily, however, be chosen quickly, since the ICANN board agreed to conduct the at-large director elections in stages, “to allow for adjustments in the process based on experience.”

The plan stems from the text of the initial “white paper” that President Clinton issued in 1998, outlining goals of the privatization project.

“The development of sound, fair, and widely accepted policies for the management of DNS will depend on input from the broad and growing community of Internet users,” the paper states. “Management structures should reflect the functional and geographic diversity of the Internet and its users. Mechanisms should be established to ensure international participation in decision making.”

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