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6/26/2009
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ICANN Names Security Expert As CEO

Rod Beckstrom, former director of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center, faces demands to make the US organization into an international body.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers named Rod Beckstrom, former director of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center, as chief executive of the non-profit overseer of domain names and Internet protocol addresses.

ICANN announced Beckstrom's selection Friday at the end of the organization's 35th annual international meeting in Sydney, Australia. In addition to his work at the NCSC, Beckstrom was CEO of risk-management software company CATS Software, and served as a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund and Jamii Bora Trust, a micro-lending group based in Nairobi, Kenya.

"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," ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said in a statement.

In taking the helm at ICANN, Beckstrom will have to deal with calls to have the organization run independently of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, the United States is the only government with oversight of ICANN, an arrangement the European Union would like to see changed.

Viviane Reding, EU information society commissioner, said in a speech in May that she would like to see judicial review of ICANN move to an international tribunal from U.S. courts. Because the Internet is an international network, more than one country should oversee ICANN, Reding said.

As NCSC director, Beckstrom formed a working group of leaders from the United States' top six cybersecurity centers spanning the civilian, military and intelligence communities, according to ICANN. He has also co-authored four books, the most recent being The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

The book describes a new organizational theory for considering all organizations as existing on a continuum between centralized and decentralized. Before joining ICANN, Beckstrom servec as chairman and "chief catalyst" of TWIKI.NET, a company that supports the open-source wiki called TWiki. A wiki is a Website that allows for easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web Pages from within a browser. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is a well-known example.

Beckstrom's appointment brought praise from tech industry leaders, security experts and politicians. "Rod's extensive technical and commercial expertise is world class, and I can think of no one better positioned to lead ICANN's critical mission as the Internet's role in society continues to increase in scope and importance," Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive of Google, said in a statement.

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