The much-maligned nonprofit group charged with overseeing basic technical matters related to internet addresses, Icann (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), is in need of fundamental reform, according to a frank assessment of the organisation written by its president and presented to board members over the weekend.
"I have concluded that Icann needs reform — deep, meaningful, structural reform, based on a clearheaded understanding of the successes and failures of the last three years," wrote Stuart Lynn. Lynn has served as president of Icann for the last year.
Lynn blames a flawed structure and excursion away from core technical issues for stalling Icann and calls, in the report, for sweeping changes that will give governments a seat at the table.
Lynn also wants to create a new governing structure that will do away with an election system that gave every internet user the chance to vote on some of the directors.
The proposals are sure to spark debate among the many groups and individuals that have a part in Icann and will likely dominate discussion at Icann's next meeting, scheduled to take place in Accra, Ghana, from 10-14 March.
Under the proposed structure, the group's governors will be trimmed from its current 19 to 15. Of those, 10 will be nominated to their posts — five by governments and five by an open nominating committee. Four will come from three policy councils and a technical advisory committee and the final member will be the president.
The structure Lynn envisages would put an end to Icann's attempt to connect with average internet users through its 'At Large' elections.
The elections, which have taken place only once, resulted in the appointment to the Icann board of directors of five people, each representing one of five regions.
Just over 34,000 of the 76,000 people who registered and became eligible to vote took part in the elections, which took place in 2000.
However, the removal of the public from the Icann process is central to Lynn's argument that Icann's mission should be much narrower than it has become, focusing on technical discussion and not attempting to tackle other issues and embrace the entire internet community.