27 June 2018

Nigel Roberts FBCS - a Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT - has been appointed to The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors.

Nigel explains: “Everyone is familiar with the two letter country codes - such as .UK, .FR and .NZ - letters used for internet addresses, but are probably not aware where they come from. The answer is that they are co-ordinated by ICANN. ICANN is the (non-profit) organisation responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the Internet, ensuring it stays stable, safe and secure for everyone. It is the nearest thing the Internet has to a governing body.”

Nigel was appointed by his colleagues around the world (who manage the two letter country codes) - in recognition of his work on ICANN, following a world-wide poll of country-code operators. He will take up his new role later this year.

He is well-known among his peers for his part, since 1998, among others from around the world, in the initial development of ICANN, the nearest thing the Internet has to a governing body.

Nigel founded the Channel Islands Domain Registry in 1996 which is now responsible for the registration and operation of all domain names ending in GG and JE (for Guernsey and Jersey) as well as technical operations for American Samoa.

Nigel explains: "ICANN is a unique body. It became clear, early on, that the old 'Westfalian' approach to international regulation, such as is used for radio/TV and the high seas, based on a model of international treaties and national legislation was not going to work in a global internet. So ICANN was created, with the encouragement of the Clinton White House, at the end of the 1990s. It pioneered what has become known as the "multi-stakeholder" model of internet governance. This approach involves commercial companies, national and territorial governments and civil society all working together in an entirely new co-operative model."

ICANN has gone through several reforms, most recently in 2016, when it became independent of the US Government which had previously had a special oversight role.

He continues: “I see my forthcoming role on the ICANN Board as the culmination of a number of different threads in my life so far. You need a unique blend of skills at ICANN including technical and legal knowledge, as well as policy work, political skills and being able to get along with people."

Whilst he travels the world to attend Internet summits, Nigel admits that the biggest kick in his work is closer to home.

"Whenever I'm in St Peter Port or St Helier and I see the names we created appear prominently around town (in Guernsey, for example, in in large, friendly, letters on the side of every bus) then I know we've made a real difference locally as well as internationally."

Nigel Roberts' biography

Nigel Roberts has been a Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT since 2005. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Originally from Prescot, near Liverpool, he left school at the age of 17 to go to University. Educated at the University of Essex (where he was one of the students who created the world's first multi-user computer game as an extra-curricular activity), he now holds degrees in Computer Science, and in Law, and is a Chartered Engineer, European Engineer and CITP.

He first came into contact with what was to become the Internet at Essex University, whilst using the Post Office's experimental network to log on to the only Internet connected computer in the UK at University College London, using teletypes.

After working for a number of well-known organisations in different parts of Europe, including BT, SWIFT and Digital Equipment/DEC (which was then the world leader in computer networking) he moved to Alderney, which is now his home, to run the Channel Islands Domain Registry.

(Roberts is a former Liberal Democrat candidate for the UK Parliament and spent a year as an elected legislator in the Channel Islands in 2002.)

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