ICANN chief Beckstrom to step down

He plans to resign when his term as ICANN CEO ends in July 2012

The head of the organization chartered with managing some of the Internet's complex routing systems is stepping down.

Rod Beckstrom, the president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), said Tuesday that he will leave the agency after his three-year term expires in July 2012.

It's been a tough job. ICANN is responsible for managing the IP addresses used to identify computers on the network, and it is also the ultimate authority on the top-level domains that humans use to surf the Web and send e-mail.

ICANN was spun out of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which managed the Internet from its early days until the late 1990s. Because ICANN is the ultimate authority over domain name registrations, it is often under pressure to clean up spammers and criminal activity on the Internet, something it has been slow to do.

Under Beckstrom, ICANN did focus on Internet security, primarily through pushing a new, more secure domain name system called DNSSEC. According to ICANN, just over 20 percent of the Internet's domains now have the ability to use this system.

Beckstrom also oversaw a plan to expand the number of top-level domains available on the Internet.

Before coming to ICANN, Beckstrom was director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Cybersecurity Center, a job he quit in 2009, citing interference from the U.S. National Security Agency.

In a press release announcing his departure, Beckstrom said he was proud of the work he'd done on the job, which pays US$750,000 per year. "In two short years we have advanced this organization to a new level of professionalism and productivity, and turned it into a genuinely multinational organization that will serve the world community long after my time here."

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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