The user groups have been chosen in three regions and are being referred to by ICANN as At Large Advisory Committees (ALAC). The announcement comes on the heels of a June decision by the ICANN board to tap into more local, regional, and global feedback on processes related to the web.
ALAC also comes at a time when there is a growing rift between ICANN and a cluster of international countries who are all vying for control of the Internet.
The new ALAC committees received certification from ICANN this week as following criteria for involving individual Internet users at a local level. ALAC will be used to provide feedback on issues pertaining to the implementation of international domain names and to ensure that different sectors of the Internet community have a voice in times when ICANN takes action on issues.
ICANN President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Twomey added that the formation of the At Large Advisory Committees are also intended to foster a greater understanding of the governing process surrounding the net.
"These groups will engage geographically and professionally diverse communities of individual Internet users in ICANN activities that affect people's use of the Internet," stated ALAC Chair Vittorio Bertola.
The basic ALAC structure will be spread throughout Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America.
The At-Large Structures will self-organize into five Regional At-Large Organizations, with one in each ICANN region, to manage outreach and public involvement and serve as the main coordination point in each region for public input to ICANN.
ICANN announced that the committees in Europe will account for four of the overall committees and will be located in Germany, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Spain. (Forderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft eV, Internet Society Bulgaria, Internet Society Luxembourg A.S.B.L., and Societa' Internet.)
The remaining two committees will be in the Asian-Pacific and Australian region, and Latin America, ICANN announced.
The formation of ALAC has been a big draw for community networking groups, professional societies, consumer advocacy groups, and academic organizations and a roll-out of the program will continue over time.
At present, ALAC has six additional applications pending, although ICANN has not announced a timetable for the launch of other committee locations or members.