The criticism is contained in a preliminary report released by the organisation's At-Large Study Committee (ALSC). Carl Bildt, the chairman of the committee, said: "The controversy surrounding ICANN's membership selection has made it more difficult to address the issues which ICANN needs to address."
At stake is how the global Internet community participates in the election of so-called "at-large" ICANN board directors, who are responsible for making decisions affecting the regulation of the Net.
The committee said it had released the report to increase public awareness on the issue prior to releasing a finalised version in early November.
The issue of selecting at-large directors came to a head after last October's global online e-mail vote raised concerns about election privacy and fairness. Following the election, ICANN chartered the At-Large Study Committee to answer questions related to the structure and processes governing the group's at-large membership.
ICANN, a non-profit organisation, was created in October 1998 to assume responsibility for Internet Protocol, space allocation, domain name management and other functions previously performed by the US government.
ICANN bylaws stipulate that the organisation is governed by a board of directors comprising a president and chief executive officer, nine at-large directors and nine directors selected by ICANN's supporting organisations.
But the new report proposes six at-large board directors selected from six different regions of the world, instead of the nine that the bylaws call for. These directors would be selected by an at-large membership comprised of "individual domain name holders" and a new "At-Large Supporting Organisation" (ALSO).
The group defended its election system, saying that individuals within corporations, such as domain administrators, would be responsible for voting, and that resellers would not be willing to pay any fee to gain voting rights.
"We are putting these recommendations out for discussion," ALSC member Esther Dyson said. "It may require a change of course."