Internet governance body the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has appointed the former director of the US National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), Rod Beckstrom, as its new chief executive.
The announcement of Beckstrom's new role came at the end of Icann's 35th international meeting in Sydney. He takes over from Paul Twomey, who had headed up the organisation since 2003.
"Rod Beckstrom has exactly the sort of strong personal and technical background that Icann needs, as we enter a period of unprecedented growth and change for the internet," said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the Icann board.
"In addition to his cyber security expertise, he's been a successful CEO of a global enterprise, done NGO work and volunteer work, and is a bestselling author. It's an extreme understatement to say we are enthused."
Prior to his role at NCSC, Beckstrom received an MBA from Stanford University, and has been an active participant in the non-profit arena, serving on the board of trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Jamii Bora Trust – a Kenyan micro-lending group.
He is also the co-author of four books, including The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, which details a new organisational theory for how diverse and untraditional organisations can become virtually self-perpetuating.
"The importance of the internet as a free-flowing source of information is being underscored right now by the events in Iran," said Beckstrom.
"It shows the power of human expression through a free and open net."
The move was welcomed by many internet giants, including Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt, who said: "Rod's extensive technical and commercial expertise is world class, and I can think of no one better positioned to lead Icann's critical mission as the internet's role in society continues to increase in scope and importance."
Schmidt's words were echoed by Turing Award winner and Google evangelist Vint Cerf, considered by many to be the father of the internet thanks to his work in designing the TCP and IP protocols.
"Rod Beckstrom is strikingly well-prepared to undertake a new role as CEO of Icann," said Cerf.
"His experience in industry and government equip him for this global and very challenging job."
With Icann under pressure from various angles including its close affiliation with the US government and the imminent introduction of open top-level domains, Beckstrom clearly has his work cut out for him. But his previous experience and support from many of the internet's biggest players should stand him in good stead.
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