The future independence of the nonprofit behind domain names on the Internet is looking less certain after its chief executive revealed he would step down next March.
Fadi Chehade has led Icann for three years and been instrumental in championing its move away from US control to a more international model, but will now move back to the private sector to a role not related to domain names.
The plans come ahead of Icann’s contract with the US government which defines its remit ending this September, with the move to international governance predicted by Chehade to only be complete by this year’s end, three months before he goes.
In a prepared statement, Lawrence Strickling, US assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, sought to assure sceptics that Icann’s move away from US control would continue.
"A successful transition does not depend on the leadership of a single individual, but rather the engagement of the global multi-stakeholder community working collaboratively to ensure that the Internet remains open, secure, and resilient," he said.
Chehade said that he would continue to advise the group after his departure, adding: "I am deeply committed to working with the board, our staff, and our community to continue Icann’s mission as we still have much to accomplish.
"During the remaining ten months of my tenure, it’s business-as-usual. My priority remains to continue strengthening Icann’s operations and services to the global community."
Before joining the nonprofit Chehade led two software companies, and also served as a regional manager for IBM’s Global Technology Services in the Middle East and North Africa.