Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts

Joined on February 18, 2006
Total Post Views: 110,448


Michael M. Roberts is a policy consultant in the field of Internet technology, services and product development, with a specialization in research and education.

Most recently, he was the first President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), serving from its inception in 1998 until March 2001. ICANN is a non-profit corporation which was formed at the request of the United States Government to serve as the means for privatizing, managing and protecting the stability of the Domain Name and Address systems of the Internet.

From 1986-96, he was Vice President at EDUCOM, a consortium of 600 universities and colleges with interests in information technology, where he was responsible for networking and telecommunications programs, including the development of public policy positions in information technology on behalf of EDUCOM members. He was for a number of years staff director of the EDUCOM Networking and Telecommunications Task Force, a group of sixty universities and corporations with common networking interests.

In 1996-97, he was a founder and the first director of Internet2, a project of more than two hundred American universities to plan, integrate and deploy an advanced broadband network and applications for research and education.

In 1990-92, he was a Co-founder, Trustee and the first Executive Director (seconded from EDUCOM) of the Internet Society, whose purpose is to promote the use of the Internet and guide its further development for both public interest and private enterprise purposes

Prior to joining EDUCOM, he was at Stanford University where he was Deputy Director of Information Technology Services, with executive responsibilities in Stanford’s computing, communications, and information systems programs. During 1983-86, he directed the university’s telecommunications modernization project, which provided a comprehensive campuswide fiber optic based network and digital voice facilities.

Mr. Roberts is a liberal arts graduate of Stanford and holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has been a consultant and advisor to many institutions of higher education, to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and to the Navy Department. He is a retired Captain in the United States Naval Reserve. He is a member and has been an officer of a number of professional societies and organizations in computing and communications, including ACM and IEEE

He is author, co-author and editor of numerous publications on networking and wrote the Introduction to “Campus Networking Strategies”. He has presented testimony to the U.S. Congress on several occasions dealing with aspects of the Internet, the National Research and Education Network (NREN), and ICANN.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Michael Roberts on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

ICANN’s Rocky Beginning - When Friends Were Scarce

In ICANN's earliest days, it had very few friends, or so it seemed to the initial Board members. There were none of the compliments and congratulations that normally accompany the creation of a new corporation. There was great hesitancy among potential donors over the fact that we did not yet have (and would not have for nine long months), a federal tax exemption number. There was also a poisonous open Board meeting in December 1998 in Cambridge, Massachusetts... more

The ICANN Accountability End Game

It was predictable, and inevitable, I suppose, that the end game of a search for a more accountable ICANN would devolve to a lawyer's contest. When there is money on the table, and when global politics are invoked to one degree or another, it is the lawyers who are tasked to translate lofty goals into precise words on paper that will survive the inspection of judges and courts. And ambitious politicians as well. more

Title II and ICANN

Many voices are hailing February 26th as a watershed day in the history of the Internet in the United States. After a year of loud argument, frequent misrepresentations, and epic flows of political contributions, the FCC has restored the open Internet rules which prevailed from 2010 until struck down in a court ruling last year. And it has done so with new reliance on existing provisions of U.S. telecom law which it believes will pass judicial scrutiny. more

ICANN’s “Unelected” Crisis

The leaked release of the European Commission's working papers on the future of Top Level Domains highlights the impending collision between adherents of the present "multistakeholder" ICANN governance model, and an ever longer list of national governments who challenge that model. At the core of the controversy is the question of how ICANN can claim legitimacy in the DNS world when none of its Directors or Officers are elected. Even worse, its only answer, when challenged legally, is that it is responsive to its contract with an agency of the U.S. Government... more

The New ICANN Emerges in Seoul

With the loud crashing of a traditional drum ceremony and an impromptu electric guitar performance by a young Korean whose rendition of Pachabel has been downloaded sixty million times on YouTube, the 36th meeting of ICANN was kicked off this morning (Korean time) by new CEO Rod Beckstrom and his fellow Directors and assembled one thousand or so participants. ICANN has always been about change, but the atmosphere in Seoul this week is charged with a sense of new challenges and new opportunities. more

The Real Problem with dot-XXX

Shakespeare has Marcellus say in Act 1 of Hamlet, "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark." ...Milton Mueller, in his recent post to this site, would have us believe that since ICANN's Board long ago agreed that ICM's application for dot-xxx registry satisfied its own criteria for a sponsored TLD, then the only explanation for all the delay is, "I'm beginning to think that ICANN's approach to TLD approval was cooked up by a demented sergeant from Abu Ghraib." Milton goes on to assert that ICM's claim on dot-xxx is protected by the 1st Amendment. If this is so, then why after more than six years of discussion, is dot-xxx still raising such a fuss? more

The Villain in the ICANN-VeriSign Struggle is the U.S. Government

ICANN Board Chair Vint Cerf now works for a company whose motto is, "Do No Evil." So how could Vint and his fellow board members be engaged in a massive capitulation to the enterprise greed of dot-com operator VeriSign? The story of how the Internet community got to its current impasse over the future of the ICANN-VeriSign relationship is overly complicated but the bottom line is that we are suffering from woes created by the U.S. Government with the best of intentions over the past fifteen years. And only the government has the capacity to stop equivocating and do the right thing for all of us. The road to hell is paved with good intentions... more