Rod Beckstrom runs ICANN, the leading overseer of the Internet, but he's stepping down next year.

Story highlights

ICANN is an international organization that governs the Internet

Some have criticized ICANN for how it's expanding the types of available domain names

Other initiatives, such as the .XXX domains for porn sites, have been controversial

The Internet is overseen by several organizations and has a checks-and-balances system

Palo Alto, California CNN  — 

The Internet doesn’t have a flag or a national anthem, but it does have a government.

For the most part that would be the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers , which faces near-constant scrutiny from countries, corporations and netizens. Think of ICANN as the head referee of a heated sporting event, under fire from all sides and rarely able to please everyone.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission wrote a letter saying ICANN has long failed to provide safeguards that protect consumers from online swindlers and help cybersecurity officials catch such crooks. In the letter, the FTC also criticized a major ICANN initiative that would let Internet users run their own domain-name extensions, to accompany .com, .org and others.

The federal agency fears that a quick expansion of domains, a project that has been several years in the making, would increase the likelihood that scammers could trick people who enter common misspellings, such as Amazon.comm. The government is also concerned that it will have a more difficult time getting information about website owners after the switch.