IT journalists to stand for ICANN board

Two UK technology writers are attempting to wrestle their way onto the body that runs the Internet, on a ticket of openness and accountability

As the body charged with overseeing the management of the Internet, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has attracted plenty of criticism from those who believe it is unaccountable, remote, and too closely linked to the US.

Now, with places on the ICANN board up for grabs, two UK technology journalists say the want to change the organisation for the better.

Kieren McCarthy and Wendy Grossman, both freelance IT journalists who have covered the Internet for more than 20 years between them, have independently submitted applications to join the ICANN board.

A total of seven places will be filled in December by the ICANN Nominating Committee, including three on the Board of Directors.

McCarthy announced his candidacy for the board earlier this month. Having attended ICANN conferences and reported on its activities, he believes ICANN needs to radically change and become a more open and communicative body.

"I think the main stumbling block to returning to an open and inclusive model of governance is not that people are unwilling or unable to do so, but more that they are uncertain of how to do it effectively," wrote McCarthy in his application, which he published on the Internet.

"I believe that with ICANN now widely accepted as the technical authority for the Internet, it should provide a clear voice to the world from that technical perspective - there is certainly no shortage of topics that could do with it: IDNs, URIs, domain names, IPv6, and of course the next-generation networks that will again turn everything on its head," he continued.

Grossman announced her own application on Friday, in a column on

"Like many of the Net's founders and creators, I am an idealist: I want the Net to remain as free and unfettered as possible, avoiding the twin dangers of stagnation and disintegration, both of which are possible outcomes of poor management," said Grossman.

"As ICANN's strategic plan itself recognises, this is a key moment in ICANN's history: if it is to become independent it must find a way to become truly accountable. It would be a betrayal of every principle on which the Internet was founded for the Internet's most important single point of failure to be completely controlled by a self-selecting body whose inner deliberations and functioning remain obscure."

It's unclear at this stage whether either candidate has much chance of success. But their applications may focus more attention on ICANN's behaviour at a time when the US is under fire for continuing to control ICANN, and when the rumblings over its decision to reject the .xxx domain are still fresh.