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Internet Oversight Group CEO Steps Down

March 3, 2009

On Monday, Paul Twomey, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), announced that he will step down later this year.

The announcement was made as ICANN opened meetings this week Mexico City.

Twomey said that he declined a thee-year contract extension with ICANN, and plans to take a leadership job in the private sector.

His current contract will expire on July 1, but Twomey says he will remain on staff until the end of the year to help his successor.

The decision comes as ICANN prepares to simplify measures for alternative suffixes to domain names.  The move will replace “.com” with thousands of new suffixes within the coming years.

ICANN is also planning to allow Internet addresses to be in languages other than English for the first time.

Twomey feels that the projects are close enough to completion to allow a leadership change.

“Organizations need renewal, and that’s a good time to do it,” Twomey said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Twomey said he has no specific post-ICANN plans, but would consider taking other positions involving the Internet.

The 47-year-old is ICANN’s third CEO since the organization was formed by the U.S. government to oversee domain name policies.  Before Twomey became ICANN’s CEO, he was chairman of the organization’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

Twomey, an Australian, is ICANN’s first non-American chief executive.

The Marina del Rey, California-based group has faced complaints that it is secretive and slow, but has largely overcome them and has grown in size.

The announcement comes a year after Vint Cerf, one of the Internet’s founding fathers, stepped down as the organization’s chairman.

“I can think of no other person who has had more influence on the course of ICANN’s evolution than Paul,” said Cerf.

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