Kiwi takes place at ICANN

Wellingtonian Alick Wilson, recently appointed to a position at ICANN, says he'll bring his experience as an internet "user and adviser" to the powerful international quango.

Wellingtonian Alick Wilson (pictured), recently appointed to a position at ICANN, says he’ll bring his experience as an internet “user and adviser” to the powerful international quango.

Wilson, an IT consultant and company director, was this month appointed to ICANN’s generic names supporting organisation, one of the three leadership bodies. He was appointed for a two-year term.

ICANN is the non-profit corporation that oversees much of the internet’s essential design, including IP address space allocation, port assignment, DNS and root server system management. It operates under a contract assigned by the US government.

Seventeen nominees were selected from 115 candidates. Wilson says ICANN wants wide geographic representation, and although he is listed as an Asia-Pacific nominee, he is expected to represent all ICANN members. “I’m independent. They didn’t want people with vested interests.”

Wilson was a founder of Azimuth Consulting, which eventually grew to about 100 staff in New Zealand, Australia and Asia before it was sold to New Jersey-based Intelligroup in 1998. Last year he joined the board of Intelligroup, and says the experience communicating with the American head office has convinced him of the value of modern phone and data networks.

The internet has become “an indispensable tool in my personal and business life”, he says. “[It] removes the tyranny of distance.”

Wilson hopes his time on the ITANZ executive, and experience as an IT consultant, will assist him in his ICANN position.

“I was on ITANZ [the local IT Association] for five years,” he says. “I was the first person from a consulting company to be on the executive.

“My view is that the consultant is there in the model to facilitate. The job of a consultant is to help reconcile the differing needs of the purchaser and vendor. I pride myself … that we were reasonably good at achieving that. In terms of ICANN, I hope that I can bring the same approach.”

ICANN is frequently accused of being insufficiently open, and of being an obstacle to progress on the internet. The nomination process itself, executed in secret by a nominating committee containing existing board members, was widely criticised.

However, Wilson doesn’t identify with ICANN dissidents such as Karl Auerbach, referring to the “clear adversarial approach in the past”.

ICANN is overseeing a period of change, Wilson says. “We all know that the internet was invented by technical people and sponsored by the US.” The US government has now assigned control of many aspects of the internet to ICANN, and the transition is a “work in progress”, he says.

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