ICANN has hired a recruiting firm and posted a job ad, officially kicking off its hunt for a CEO to replace Rod Beckstrom when he leaves next summer.
The organization has posted a candidate profile, listing 25 personal, professional, technical and governance skills that are desirable.
Candidates should have a “solid record of either/or public, corporate, academic service, at a high international level” and be able to combine “weight of personality with empathy towards others of many different backgrounds”.
They should also understand the internet’s technical protocols and have knowledge of international institutions such as the UN, according to the profile.
“Few if any candidates will of course match every single criterion listed above, but those who reach the final shortlist are expected to score very highly against them,” it states.
The Brussels-based executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has been recruited to handle applications, ICANN said.
Beckstrom himself has previously said that he thinks his replacement should come from outside the domain name industry, but this is not stated as a requirement on the profile.
ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom will address a half-day conference on new generic top-level domains in London next month, just a few days before ICANN’s application window opens.
The Top Level, scheduled for January 9, is being hosted by Norwegian registry services provder CloudNames, the PR agency Burson-Marsteller and international law firm DLA Piper.
Each company also has an executive speaking, and then there’s a panel discussion.
Although BM is on ICANN’s payroll, having been recently named the recipient of a $900,000 outreach budget, it appears that the conference is not an ICANN initiative.
Tickets for the five-hour event are being sold for €490, or €441 for “early bird” registrations.
It will be presumably one of the last conferences Beckstrom will keynote on his world tour before ICANN starts accepting new gTLD applications, January 12.
NTIA boss Larry Strickling has come out in support of ICANN and its new top-level domains program, warning that its opponents “provide ammunition” to authoritarian regimes.
Speaking in Washington DC yesterday, Strickling warned that organizations fighting to put a stop to the new gTLD program risk provoking a UN takeover of the internet.
In a strongly worded defense of the six-year-old ICANN multistakeholder process that created the program, he said:
we are now seeing parties that did not like the outcome of that multistakeholder process trying to collaterally attack the outcome and seek unilateral action by the U.S. government to overturn or delay the product of a six-year multistakeholder process that engaged folks from all over the world.
The multistakeholder process does not guarantee that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. But it is critical to preserving the model of Internet governance that has been so successful to date that all parties respect and work through the process and accept the outcome once a decision is reached.
When parties ask us to overturn the outcomes of these processes, no matter how well-intentioned the request, they are providing “ammunition” to other countries who attempt to justify their unilateral actions to deny their citizens the free flow of information on the Internet.
This we will not do. There is too much at stake here.
Strickling is assistant secretary at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees the US government’s relationship with ICANN and IANA.
He’s made similar remarks in support of the multistakeholder model in the past, but never quite as firmly or directly aimed at opponents of the new gTLD expansion.
While he was diplomatic enough not to single out any one group, he was pretty clearly referring to the recently formed Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.
But Strickling did sound a note of caution about new gTLDs, saying that he agreed with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who expressed concern about possible negative impacts of the expansion:
We agree with the Chairman’s concerns over how this program will be implemented and its potential negative effect if not implemented properly. We will closely monitor the execution of the program and are committed to working with stakeholders, including U.S. industry, to mitigate any unintended consequences.
But the minutiae of the Applicant Guidebook was not Strickling’s focus. Instead, it was the wider political picture.
The threat of an International Telecommunications Union takeover of the internet’s policy-making functions has plagued ICANN for almost as long as it has existed.
Strickling noted that the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications is coming up one year from now, and that some nations will attempt to usurp ICANN.
Some nations appear to prefer an Internet managed and controlled by nation-states.
We expect that some states will attempt to rewrite the regulation in a manner that would exclude the contributions of multistakeholder organizations and instead provide for heavy-handed governmental control of the Internet.
For the ANA and CRIDO, Strickling’s remarks are a huge setback.
The ANA has previously said that it planned to use all three branches of the US political system — lobbying Congress and the NTIA, or taking ICANN to court — to achieve its ends.
The Senate clearly wasn’t interested yesterday and the NTIA has now confirmed that it’s on ICANN’s side.
That leaves only one option.
Commercial Connect, one of the companies planning to apply to ICANN for the new top-level domain .shop, has appointed a US National Retail Federation Foundation director to its board.
Richard Last is also chairman emeritus of Shop.org and has a long history in retail, according to a Commercial Connect press release.
The NRF has been one of the more outspoken critics of the new gTLD program recently. While the organization does not oppose it outright, it does believe the program needs to be delayed.
GMO Registry also intends to apply for .shop, and has arguably been the higher-profile of the two public applicants, going so far as to sponsor ICANN events under the .shop brand.
NetChoice, which has spent the last few years publicly expressing a skeptical view of ICANN’s new top-level domains program, has today come out explicitly in its support.
“While not perfect, ICANN’s plan to expand the domain space is a critical step forward for the Internet,” NetChoice executive director Steve DelBianco said in a press release.
“Managed properly, the new gTLD program should increase competition, expand user choice, and make the Internet far more useful to hundreds of millions of users worldwide who read and write in alphabets other than Latin,” he said.
This puts a number of companies in the interesting situation of simultaneously opposing and supporting the new gTLDs program, at least if you track which associations they belong to.
Take eBay, for example.
It’s also a member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which opposes new gTLDs and is a founder member of the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, which was founded by the ANA and also opposes new gTLDs.
Yahoo, Expedia and Facebook are all members of the IAB, which opposes the expansion, and NetChoice, which doesn’t.
News Corp is a member of NetChoice, which supports new gTLDs, while many of its Fox-branded subsidiaries are members of the IAB, which is a member of CRIDO, which opposes new gTLDs.
Intel is a member of the ANA, which opposes the program. It’s also a member of the Association of Competitive Technology, which is in turn a member of NetChoice, which supports it.
Very confusing, isn’t it?
Almost makes you think that, regardless of which side you’re on, hiding behind a coalition just makes your point of view seem less valid.