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No U.S. members elected to ICANN board

U.S. big business will have to find other ways to influence the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, as U.S. candidates were edged out in elections for three board seats.

U.S. big business will have to find other ways to influence the new body in charge of the Net's critical address system, as U.S. candidates were edged out in elections for three board seats this week.

Joining the board of the influential Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is slowly moving from an appointed structure to an elected one, are Alejandro Pisanty, a professor at National Autonomous University of Mexico; Amadeu Abril i Abril, a professor at the Ramon Llull University Law School in Spain; and Canadian copyright attorney Jonathan Cohen.

The ICANN board votes on important policies, including which companies can sell domain name registrations and how to settle trademark fights over names. In the future it also will decide whether to create more domains, such as ".firm."

The new board members beat out prominent U.S. candidates, including former Rep. Rick White (R-Washington), who works at a Seattle law firm, and Don Telage, a senior vice president at dominant registrar Network Solutions (NSI) who is planning to leave his post in January.

Although the outcome of this week's election was closely watched, it is only the first step toward replacing ICANN's interim 9-person appointed board with an elected 18-member board. The current board members, who represent countries including Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States, were put in place last year in a closed process that sparked sharp criticism from some quarters and drew the attention of Congress.

A total of nine new board members will be picked by ICANN's so-called supporting organizations, which are delegations that represent specific stakeholders. The stakeholders include those concerned with domain names, technical standards bodies, and entities that maintain Internet protocol addresses, which are numbers assigned to computers on the Net that correspond with every easy-to-remember domain name.

The three new board members elected over the last week were picked by the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO), which represents some of the most powerful business interests on the Net, including NSI, AT&T, Dun & Bradstreet, and the Motion Picture Association of America.

ICANN's two other supporting organizations--the Protocol Supporting Organization and the Address Supporting Organization--are expected to hold elections before its next meeting, November 1-4 in Los Angeles.

Those organizations also get three board seats each. Then an at-large membership, which will be made up of regular Net users and put in place next summer, will elect the remaining nine ICANN board members.

The White House backed ICANN last November to kick-start a process to transfer control of the Net's domain name system from the U.S. government to the global private sector. ICANN already has accredited more than 70 registrars around the world to sell Net names ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org" in competition with NSI, which has dominated the market thanks to an exclusive government contract.