ICANN president to step down by year's end

Paul Twomey has led the organization since 2003

Paul Twomey, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) since March 2003, will step down at the end of the year, the organization announced Monday.

Twomey told the ICANN board he does not want to renew his contract for another three-year term, he said in an ICANN statement. Twomey announced his departure during an ICANN meeting in Mexico City.

His decision to leave comes as ICANN, the nonprofit organization created in 1998 to oversee the Internet's Domain Name System, is moving away from long-time ties with the U.S. government. ICANN's long-time memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Commerce expires in September, and ICANN leaders have said they want to remove the perception that they are controlled by the U.S. government.

In recent years, several other countries have pushed for ICANN to sever its ties with the U.S. government. Some countries have pushed unsuccessfully to have the United Nations oversee ICANN.

ICANN is also in the middle of a controversial effort to allow the sale of more generic top-level domains (GTLD). In February, in response to several concerns brought up by the public and companies in the Internet industry, ICANN's projected time line for taking applications for new GTLDs slipped from September to December.

Several companies have complained that many new GTLDs would require them to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy domain names on those GTLDs to protect their brand names.

Before becoming president and CEO, Twomey served for four years as chairman of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee. Before joining ICANN, he was the founder of Argo P@cific, an international advisory and investment firm that helps companies build Internet and technology businesses.

Twomey was formerly the CEO of the Australian National Office for the Information Economy, and he served as the Australian government's special adviser for the information economy and technology.

Several Internet leaders praised Twomey's efforts at ICANN. "During his tenure, ICANN has become a stronger organization and, as a key element of the Internet ecosystem, has ensured the security and stability of the Domain Name System," Lynn St. Amour, CEO of the Internet Society, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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