Author: Kieren McCarthy

Kieren McCarthy is an acknowledged authority on the Internet and Internet governance. He has written extensively about both for a wide range of national and international newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Sunday Times, New Scientist, The Register, PC Week, Techworld, and others.

An engineer by training, Kieren has spent more than 10 years as an IT journalist and has, at some point interviewed, just about everybody in the Internet industry. The official blogger for both the inaugural Internet Governance Forum and an OECD conference on the Participative Web, and author of the book, he was also ICANN’s General Manager of Public Participation, tasked with coordinating communication between the organization and Internet users for three years.

He is CEO of .Nxt. Inc, and created both the company and the conference to provide a space for positive information-sharing about the future of the Internet's infrastructure.

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21 May 2012

Why the ICANN Board is getting rid of its end of conference Board meetings

The last Friday Board meeting we will see for a while?

A fortnight ago, the ICANN Board announced it was getting rid of its public meeting on the last day of its conferences.

The news has been criticized by in some quarters by those who fear the change will reduce the organization's accountability and transparency at a crucial time.

We met up with Board member Chris Disspain, who is also one of the members of the Public Participation Committee that has been reviewing changes to ICANN meetings, to discuss the rationale behind the change and what it means in reality.

So why the decision to get rid of the Friday Board meeting?

8 May 2012

It's time for Internet organizations to ditch the palace politics and grow up

Starting next week, the United Nations in Geneva will host a series of back-to-back meetings with a broad focus: deciding the ways in which the future of the Internet will be decided.

Most meetings are open and attendance is free. And yet, despite the low barriers to entry, one key demographic is largely missing: business.

For example, of the 300 people registered with an online website covering the first of four conferences (the WSIS Forum), only 26 identify themselves as coming from the private sector, and of them, only 11 are not from specialist Internet infrastructure companies.

The same pattern is repeated at the conference that follows: consultations over the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). And business numbers will fall even further for the last two: "enhanced co-operation" and the annual meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).

1 May 2012

ICANN's failure to deal with a flaw in its computer software speaks to a bigger problem with the organization itself

It was supposed to be ICANN's swansong. A program more successful than anyone had dared to expect. An expansion of the Internet that would put the organization at the heart of a revolution; where anyone could apply for any Internet extension they wished.

Even considering its size and scope, the new gTLD project had not been an easy ride. Delays measured in years rather than months. Heated policy debates. High-level politics. And then, just weeks before it was due to go live, a Washington broadside that saw no less than three national newspapers, two Congressional hearings and one highly critical FTC report, all say the same thing: hold off, you're not ready. Despite the pressure, and even admitting that the program was unfinished, ICANN threw itself into the hands of fate and launched on 12 January.

19 April 2012

For an organization that repeatedly promises to improve its accountability and transparency, ICANN remains dangerously comfortable with providing only the barest details of a crucial software failure it suffered this week.

Literally the day that it was due to close applications on its flagship program to create potentially thousands of new Internet extensions, the organization announced it was suspending its online application system due to "unusual behavior".

Since then the company's COO Akram Atallah has put out a daily update. Other than these few short paragraphs of basic detail, however, the organization has refused to provide any further information, despite global negative coverage.

13 April 2012

There are two ways to handle a situation where your computer system may have been hacked.

You can start from the worst case scenario, investigate, and work backwards - this is the process that most companies (with the notable exception of Apple) have learnt from experience is the best way to go.

Alternatively, you can assume the best, investigate, and be forced to constantly re-evaluate how bad the situation really is. This is the approach that inexperienced companies take, and it is the one that ICANN is following with the news that there has been "unusual behavior" in its application system for new gTLDs.

The glitch couldn't have happened at a worse time. The organization was just about to close applications for its flagship program and that same day it had received mainstream media coverage, putting a spotlight on it.

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