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Governing the Web – Internet regulator takes heat

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The nonprofit group charged by the Clinton administration to control the Internet’s infrastructure faces new criticism about it’s the process for electing its board, Reuters reports.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, has weathered storms of criticism from Congress and Internet users since it was established by the Clinton administration last year. ICANN is responsible for setting policies on assigning and using Internet addresses.

To boost its legitimacy, ICANN agreed to allow the general Internet community to elect 9 members to its 19-member board.

Internet watchdog groups Common Cause and the Center for Democracy and Technology say the plan, which would allow anyone with an e-mail address to participate in the election, is open to abuse and should be overhauled.

In their online report, the groups warned that few Internet users were educated about ICANN or what was at stake in the election.

By controlling policies for using Internet addresses, ICANN could restrict content on the network, impose taxes on Internet users or impose other restrictions on registering Internet addresses.

ICANN withdrew a plan last year to fund its operations with a $1 charge on every new Internet address registration after lawmakers criticized the charge.

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