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Vinton Cerf, chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, addresses a panel session on internet governance in Switzerland in January. ((AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro della Valle))

Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet, is stepping down from his role as the chairman of its oversight committee to focus on writing books, advocacy and his job at Google Inc.

The 64-year-old has spent the past seven years as the head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which counts the administration of domain names as its chief responsibility. Cerf is also a vice-president and "chief internet evangelist" of Google.

He is stepping down from ICANN this week after guiding the organization through several battles over the past few years. In 2005, ICANN was under threat of being taken over by the United Nations after several countries complained the group was too U.S.-focused. Cerf helped negotiate an agreement that kept the running of the organization largely unchanged.

"My sentence is up," he told the Associated Press with his trademark humour.

Cerf said he has spent between 25 and 40 per cent of his time on ICANN-related business. He said he will step away from the group completely for at least a year, to allow it to become self-sufficient. ICANN has not yet named a successor.

Under Cerf, ICANN introduced new top-level domains for Europe and Asia — .eu and .asia — but could notdecide on how to implement a .xxx name for pornographic sites.

He said he plans to write several books, including at least one about the internet and another about hearing impairment. Cerf is also an outspoken advocate of net neutrality principles and the development of the internet.