Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister of Sweden and United Nations envoy, will serve as chair of the new nine-member study committee. Bildt and his co-workers will examine how individuals can effectively participate in ICANN's policy development, deliberations and actions for technical coordination of the Internet, according to an ICANN statement.
ICANN looks for the committee to ensure that individuals in many different regions have their opinions heard in Internet-related issues. ICANN will use public forums, mailing lists and a public Web site to solicit information.
The at-large membership program was designed to give users a voice in the selection of directors appointed to the ICANN board and in the setting of policy decisions related to Internet names and addresses. ICANN's at-large membership policies have stirred controversy since early last year.
ICANN opened up its at-large membership to Internet users around the world in February of last year and committed to allowing users to vote for many key posts in the organisation. Some speculated this process could lead to poor choices in ICANN's board of directors and other offices.
In October of last year, those concerns were highlighted by the controversial election of Andy Mueller-Maguhn -- a member of the Hamburg-based hacker organisation Chaos Computer Club -- to the ICANN board of directors.
ICANN was formed in September 1998 to oversee certain Internet technical management functions that were previously managed by the U.S. government or by its contractors and volunteers. Specifically, ICANN is responsible for coordinating the management of the Internet domain name system (DNS), the allocation of IP (Internet Protocol) address space and other Internet protocol tasks.