- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig and University System of Maryland Chancellor Donald Langenberg are two of the 18 candidates named yesterday to run for seats on the group that manages the extensive Internet domain-name network.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is holding elections in October in response to criticism that it is closed to most Internet users and out of touch with them.

ICANN was started as a group of volunteer stewards given authority to take over technical control of the Internet. As part of that duty, ICANN controls the number of addresses available on the Internet and decides which suffixes such as .com, .net and .org are used.

"A fair number of decisions ICANN makes and will make affect all Internet users," said Alan Davidson, attorney with the civil libertarian Center For Democracy and Technology. "ICANN is, in theory, a narrow management body, but even in that role, they have an important impact on a number of people and businesses."

The organization, formed in 1998 by the Clinton administration, has never held an election for any of its 19 seats, nine of which are set aside to represent Internet users. Instead, all the members were appointed.

ICANN will add five directors one for each of five geographic regions from the pool of 18 candidates when it holds worldwide elections lasting 10 consecutive days beginning Oct. 1.

Voter registration to participate in the election closed Monday, and 158,593 Internet users registered to vote in the referendum. ICANN expected a mere 5,000 Internet users to register to vote.

A U.S. registration drive by the American Library Association, Common Cause and the Center For Democracy and Technology helped boost the number of North American voters, and more than 21,000 people in the United States and Canada are eligible to cast votes.

"Elections aren't the only answer, but they are an important first step toward providing accountability. The whole goal is to make ICANN open and more accountable," Common Cause President L. Scott Harshbarger said.

Voters will pick one person and can only vote on the continent where they live. Candidates were picked to represent five geographic areas North America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America.

Mr. Lessig and Mr. Langenberg are two of four North American candidates.

Mr. Lessig has become a prominent analyst of technology issues. This year, he filed a brief at the request of U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in the federal government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

Mr. Langenberg has headed the University System of Maryland since 1990.

Other North American nominees include Harris Miller, president of the 11,000-member trade group Information Technology Association of America, based in Arlington, Va.; and Lyman Chapin, chief scientist at Cambridge, Mass.-based BBN Technologies.

Mr. Miller said ICANN is responding to calls that it shed light on its operations.

"I'm very much a believer of an open system, and I think ICANN has moved in that direction after a few early missteps," Mr. Miller said.

Brian O'Shaughnessy, spokesman at Herndon, Va.-based domain-name registrar Network Solutions Inc., agreed. "ICANN was seen as top-down and autocratic. Now, they are opening up," he said.

ICANN may decide later this year to add more suffixes so more domain names can be registered. There already are 19 million .com, .net and .org suffixes.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide