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Another controversial VP leaves ICANN

Kevin Murphy, September 5, 2012, Domain Policy

It’s house-cleaning time at ICANN, it seems.

Elad Levinson, controversially hired 18 months ago as vice president of “organizational effectiveness” has been terminated, we’ve learned.

Levinson, who started in May 2010 as a consultant before going full-time as a VP, was tasked with sorting out some of the internal problems at ICANN.

But his hiring was not warmly welcomed by many in the ICANN community (or, we hear, staff), coming at a time when other more mission-critical positions were still vacant.

As former CEO Rod Beckstrom’s most controversial hire — Levinson’s previous ventures made him look like a bit of a hippy with a penchant for psychobabble — his departure is not unexpected.

It follows the resignation of communications VP Barbara Ann Clay, which we reported yesterday.

The rumor mill has it that Clay and Levinson are not the only ICANN executives to face the chop this week, but they’re the only names we’ve been able to confirm so far.

ICANN comms chief quits

Kevin Murphy, September 4, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN vice president of communications Barbara Ann Clay has resigned, DI has learned.

Clay was appointed to the role in 2010 under Rod Beckstrom, and the fact that she is leaving now, while the CEO role is in transition, will come as little surprise to ICANN watchers.

As head of comms, Clay presided over a new gTLD outreach program that managed to result in 1,930 applications but which was criticized by some for not focusing enough on the developing world.

A generally low-profile executive, the only time DI has had cause to mention Clay’s name was when she complained to the government of Senegal about a crappy hotel.

She’s the second senior executive with responsibility over the new gTLD program — the third if you include Beckstrom — to leave ICANN since Reveal Day.

Program director Michael Salazar resigned in June at about the same time digital archery was getting killed off.

Clay’s last day on the job is believed to be September 14.

Congressmen quiz ICE over domain seizures

Kevin Murphy, September 3, 2012, Domain Policy

Three US members of Congress have expressed “deep concern” over the alleged lack of due process followed when the Department of Homeland Security seizes domain names.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Jason Chaffetz quiz DHS (pdf) about the methods employed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in its Operation In Our Sites.

The Congressmen’s letter highlights the case of the hip-hop web site, which had its .com seized by ICE and then returned.

“Much of Dajaz1’s information was lawful,” the letter reads. “Despite this, DHS and the Department of Justice suppressed this website for more than a year.”

The Congressmen say that “if a website’s domain is seized, it needs to be given meaningful due process that comports to the US Constitution and US law”.

Operation In Our Sites has seen ICE seize hundreds of domains — mainly .coms accused of copyright infringement — from US-based registries including Verisign since late 2010.

Despite the relatively small number of domains seized, there have been a number of controversies.

Notably, the Spanish TV download web site RojaDirecta, which lost its .com and .org domains despite being ruled legal by a court in its home nation, last month had them returned to it by ICE.

ICANN to return to South Africa in 2013

Kevin Murphy, August 31, 2012, Domain Policy

The location of ICANN’s second meeting in 2013 has been revealed as Durban, South Africa.

A proposal submitted by the local ccTLD manager, .za Domain Name Authority, was approved by the ICANN board of directors earlier this week.

It’s the second time ICANN has hosted one of its thrice-yearly public meetings in the country; in 2004, Cape Town was the venue.

The Durban meeting will run from July 14 to July 19 2013. It’s the third upcoming meeting on ICANN’s calendar after Toronto (October) and Beijing (April 2013).

Durban, a popular tourist destination, is South Africa’s third-largest city, with a population of about half a million almost four million.

Satellite policy expert named ICANN director

Kevin Murphy, August 31, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has named Olga Madruga-Forti, an Argentinian telecoms policy expert, as the newest member of its board of directors.

Selected by this year’s Nominating Committee, Madruga-Forti will take over from R. Ramaraj when his second term ends at the Toronto meeting this October.

According to the biography provided by ICANN, she has extensive experience of telecommunications policy, particularly related to satellite, in both public and private sectors.

She currently works for ARSAT in Buenes Aires as international counsel. She’s previously worked for Iridium, Loral and the US Federal Communications Commission.

ICANN pointed out that she represents telcos at the International Telecommunications Union, a relevant data point, perhaps, given the WCIT conference coming up in December.

Madruga-Forti ticks one of the Latin-American boxes on the ICANN board.

NomCom has also reappointed two other directors for second terms on the board: Gonzalo Navarro (Latin-America) and the reliably contrarian George Sadowsky (North America).

New leadership members of three ICANN supporting organizations have also been selected by NomCom.

Jennifer Wolfe of the intellectual property law firm WolfeSBMC, which counts new gTLD applicants Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods among its clients, has been appointed to GNSO Council.

I believe she’s destined to replace Carlos Dionisio Aguirre when his term is up later this year.

Canadian Alan Greenberg and Frenchman Jean-Jacques Subrenat have been reappointed to the At-Large Advisory Committee.

Mary Wong, who currently sits on the GNSO Council representing non-commercial stakeholders, has been appointed to the ccNSO Council.

The full biographies of all 2012 NomCom appointees can be found here.