The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit corporation created in order to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the U.S. government by other organizations, announced Rod Beckstrom, former U.S. cyber-security chief, as its new chief executive.
Beckstrom, the co-founder and former chairman and CEO of CATS Software, was appointed to run the newly created National Cyber Security Center in March 2008, which he ran for less than a year. ICANN’s board approved the move in a vote held this week, with the announcement of Beckstrom’s selection as CEO occurring at the conclusion of ICANN’s 35th international meeting in Sydney. He will assume his new role starting next Wednesday.
He told The Associated Press he feels the new role will allow him to concentrate on Internet addressing issues and domain names and avoid the squabbles he encountered while running the National Cyber Security Center. “Our job at ICANN is to facilitate that dialogue and process,” he told the AP. “I don’t see myself as being the leading source or expert.”
ICANN board chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said Beckstrom has exactly the sort of strong personal and technical background that ICANN needs. “In addition to his cyber-security expertise, he’s been a successful CEO of a global enterprise, done NGO work and volunteer work and a bestselling author,” he said. “It’s an extreme understatement to say we are enthused.”
Beckstrom has been an active participant in the non-profit arena, serving on the board of trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Jamii Bora Trust, a micro-lending group based in Nairobi, Kenya, with more than 210,000 members. He noted the online protests (and resulting crackdowns) in Iran following this month’s disputed election are an example of how vital an open Internet is. “The importance of the Internet as a free flowing source of information is being underscored right now by the events in Iran,” said Beckstrom. “It shows the power of human expression through a free and open Net.”
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), called the selection an “outstanding choice” for ICANN. “He can bring constituencies together and has inspired important collaborations around the world,” he said. “He recognizes both the potential and the challenges for ICANN. And has stood up for the civil liberties of Internet users with courage and foresight.”
“The Internet has changed the way the world communicates and conducts commerce,” said Beckstrom. “And in no small way, this multi-stakeholder, bottom-up organization has been and will continue to be at the core of the Internet’s on-going evolution. Quite simply, the proof that ICANN works, is that the Internet works.”