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Some Critics Pass On Landmark ICANN Hearing
June 27, 2002

ICANN, the body that oversees the Internet's worldwide addressing system, is pondering one of the most important decisions it has ever faced at a public meeting this week, but some critics are taking a pass on the gathering, frustrated by the organization's approach to public participation. 

"We all went to (ICANN's last meeting in Accra, Ghana) and we're really disappointed," said Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) Policy Analyst Rob Courtney. 

ICANN, short for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is holding a meeting this week in Bucharest, Romania, to debate a proposal to reform itself. The outcome of that debate will determine who sits on the worldwide board that manages the Internet's invaluable Domain Name System (DNS). That reform process was set in motion at the Accra meeting, despite arguments from public interest advocates who favored a competing proposal that would have allowed ordinary Internet users to elect a portion of the ICANN board. 

CDT's Courtney said public advocacy groups have become increasingly disenchanted with the ICANN process, as the organization has declined to act on their suggestions and comments. 

"There is a resigned and frustrated expectation that (ICANN is) gonna do what they're gonna do and they seem stunningly unresponsive to outside pressure," Media Access Project (MAP) President Andy Schwartzman said. 

Although MAP Associate Director Harold Feld did decide at the last minute to attend the ICANN meeting in Romania, MAP came close to taking a pass on the Bucharest meeting as well, Schwartzman said. 

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