The Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers has selected two people to join its board of directors, both of whom appear to be strategic picks aimed at helping ICANN fight off moves by the UN in Internet governance.
ICANN said yesterday that current chairman Vint Cerf will keep his seat for another term. The new appointees are Japan’s Joichi Ito, who has substantial business and geek credentials, and Vanda Scartezini, a former senior Brazilian government worker.
The appointees both bring something to the table that could prove strategically significant in the ongoing power struggle many perceive to be going on between ICANN and the UN and International Telecommunications Union.
During the World Summit on the Information Society last December, some countries pushed for the ITU to take a dominant role in internet governance, an area some say includes ICANN, despite its ostensibly technical role as DNS manager.
Given that Brazil, along with China, was one of the primary proponents of a rejected measure that would have recommended the ITU take over ICANN, connections to the Brazilian government could be a boon to ICANN in future.
Scartezini has served as the Brazilian National Secretary of Industrial Technology and as the National Secretary of Information Technology. She also represented Brazil on ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee.
Ito’s credentials are primarily business and technical. He founded PSINet Japan and Infoseek Japan, among other companies, and currently works primarily in the blogging services field. He sits on the board of Creative Commons.
But Ito has made it known that he regards ICANN as a preferable option to the ITU, which he sees as being too biased towards major telecommunications companies, when it comes to managing the internet.
Ito wrote in his blog yesterday that the single biggest factor in his decision to go for the ICANN job is to try to prove that the people of the internet can govern themselves without direct involvement from nation-states.
If ICANN is not successful in proving that it can manage some of the critical elements of the internet such as the name space and IP addresses, ICANN will be dissolved and the ITU will step in, Ito wrote.
Ito does have experience sitting on Japanese government inquiry panels. Japan is generally pro-ICANN. The government-backed operator of its country-code domain, .jp, is one of only a handful to have signed a cooperative agreement with ICANN.
The selections of Cerf, Ito and Scartezini were made by ICANN’s independent Nominating Committee, which replaced public elections as a means to pick directors. The NomCom has power to pick eight of ICANN’s fifteen directors.
Each of the three will sit for three years. NomCom selected them, along with several others picked for less senior roles within the organization’s policymaking groups, from 84 individuals who expressed interest.