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Panel recommends ICANN overhaul

The group that oversees the Net's traffic system moves closer to a complete overhaul as a committee recommends changes aimed at making the controversial body function more smoothly.

The group that oversees the Internet's traffic system moved closer to a complete overhaul over the weekend when a committee recommended changes aimed at making the controversial body function more smoothly.

In a report released late Friday night, a committee set up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recommended that the group retool its internal structure and change how corporate directors are chosen, but rejected a proposal to bring governments on board.

The committee, which consists of four of ICANN's 19 directors, emphasized that its report did not represent the official views of the entire ICANN board. But the report came out five days after the committee met privately with the other directors to come up with a rough consensus over how the global body should operate in the future.

"For ICANN to be successful in the future, when it will face even more difficult challenges, it must evolve into a more effective entity," the report said.

The committee asked for public feedback and said it hoped to approve a reform plan when ICANN next meets in Romania at the end of June.

Created to control the domain-name system that enables Internet users to find Web pages, ICANN has been plagued since its inception with questions about how it should function and who should participate.

In February ICANN's president, M. Stuart Lynn, recommended that the group abandon online elections and instead rely on a "nominating committee" to pick the board members who were not chosen by technical and business groups.

Lynn's plan drew widespread opposition from critics who said it would reduce accountability as the planet's 500 million users would no longer have a direct voice. At a meeting in March, ICANN ruled out future elections and set up the committee to fine-tune Lynn's plan.

The restructuring committee, which is made up of four of ICANN's 19 directors, rejected Lynn's proposal to give national governments control of one-third of the board.

But the committee upheld other key Lynn proposals. Under the committee's plan, seven seats on the ICANN board would go to groups representing domain-name sellers, security experts, government delegates, and other established technical and commercial groups.

The international community behind country code domains such as France's ".fr" would also get a seat.

Another five to 11 seats would be chosen by a nominating committee to represent the Internet community as a whole, but the report declined to say who would sit on that committee.

Outsiders could file complaints with an ombudsman, or go to an independent arbitration forum if they believed the group was violating its bylaws.

ICANN should steer clear of any attempts to control online content, the reports said.

Story Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.