The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) elected Wellington-based Peter Dengate Thrush, a board member who has been involved in ICANN since its inception, as its new chairman.
This will be the third chairman of the organisation, which has also had three CEOs and many board chairmen, Cerf said. "The point is, this is a highly resilient organisation that is fully capable of going through these kinds of changes," he said.
ICANN is a nonprofit organisation that handles Internet management functions, some of which were originally performed by the U.S. government. For example, ICANN coordinates domain names and is currently working on ways to enable non-Latin words, such as Chinese characters, in domain names.
Earlier this year, ICANN CEO Paul Twomey said that the group was very concerned about the issue of filling the chairman position once Cerf stepped down. Cerf is widely known and respected, so following in his footsteps won't be an easy task.
But ICANN leaders said that Dengate Thrush is appropriate for the role, given his history with the group and even longer history involved with the Internet.
In addition, Cerf said it's significant that Dengate Thrush is from New Zealand. "This is the first time in ICANN history that the chairman of the board has been drawn from someplace other than the US," Cerf said. Dengate Thrush, combined with other board members who are also from various different countries, points to the increasing globalisation of the internet, he said.
Dengate Thrush, however, downplayed the importance of his nationality. His election is just another sign of the maturity of the organisation, he said.
Cerf has been a member of ICANN since 1999 and chairman since 2000. He has said that he plans to distance himself from the organisation, at least initially, and will instead focus more on other activities including his position as chief Internet evangelist at Google. He is considered one of the fathers of the Internet for his role in creating its basic architecture.