The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that oversees the creation and management of top-level domains like
.org, and the myriad of international and special purpose domains like
.mobi, has appointed Rob Beckstrom as its new CEO. The announcement came at the conclusion of ICANN’s 35th international meeting in Sydney, Australia, and follows Paul Twomey’s announcement last March that he would step down as ICANN CEO by the end of 2009.
“Rod Beckstrom has exactly the sort of strong personal and technical background that ICANN needs, as we enter a period of unprecedented growth and change for the Internet,” said ICANN board chairman Peter Dengate Thrush, in an announcement. “In addition to his cyber security expertise, he’s been a successful CEO of a global enterprise, done NGO work and volunteer work and [is] a bestselling author. It’s an extreme understatement to say we are enthused.”
Beckstrom was most recently the directory of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center, which was created to coordinate online, Internet, and digital security efforts across a wide variety of U.S. government organizations. Beckstrom resigned the post in March 2009, raising eyebrows by claiming lack of authority and funding made the task impossible.
ICANN faces significant challenges moving forward, as it tries to gently shift out of de-factor control from the U.S. Department of Commerce to a truly international organization. ICANN is also in the midst of working out how to implement internationalized domain names (that can contain non-Roman characters) and substantially expand the number of top-level domains on the Internet to include even brand-specific domains. ICANN is also struggling with how to validate and maintain quality of service standards and transparency among domain registrars. And the stakes are high: if the international community fails to reach a consensus through ICANN, the Internet risks fracturing into separately-inaccessible fiefdoms.
Beckstrom’s most recent book is The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, which examines non-traditional, self-perpetuating organizations.
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