A self-styled hacker looks set to gain election to the board of domain name regulator the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).
Andy Mueller-Maguhn, spokesman for the Germany-based Chaos Computing Club, topped the list of nominees for the position in the Euro region, with 2,886 votes.
If successful, Maguhn will sit alongside luminaries including Esther Dyson and Vint Cerf, and representatives from giant carriers such as MCI and Verizon, on the board that registers new top-level domains (TLDs) and sets up domain name dispute procedures.
Maguhn will now go up against candidates nominated by the Icann board, which mainly includes telecoms firms and IT suppliers. The electorate for this first experiment in cyber-democracy consists of just 76,000 users. Only 158,000 people bothered to register by the August cut-off date. Voting takes place from 1-10 October.
Maguhn said, "The present Icann board doesn't represent the users of the Internet, nor does it give enough attention to the Internet as a public space - public interests are often overruled by commercial ones."
He urged business users, who have largely stood back from the Icann election process, to get involved. "I have nothing against commercial expansion of the Net, as long as it does not try to take over the public space." he said.
Maguhn called for the creation of a .tm domain name extension for holders of global trademarks as a way of avoiding commercial domain name disputes.
Meanwhile, Erik Young, chief executive officer of UK domain-name registrar Easyspace.com, said the small number of electors, together with absence of checks on those registered to vote, was a "serious concern".
"We don't know who they are or what they do," he said. "Icann should consider allowing a second round of registration, with some simple criteria - for example a minimum age. We are talking about the regulation of one of the biggest commercial environments created since the industrial revolution."
Young said the voting procedure could be extended to help prioritise the registration of new TLDs. "If we had the right people voting they could indicate what TLDs to bring out first," he said.
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