What is ICANN?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized,
non-profit corporation that has responsibility for
Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation,
protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and
country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system
management, and root server system management functions.
These services were originally performed under U.S.
Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers
Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs
the IANA function.
As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated
to preserving the operational stability of the Internet;
to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation
of global Internet communities; and to developing
policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up,
What is the Domain Name System?
The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users find their
way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet
has a unique address called its "IP address" (Internet
Protocol address). Because IP addresses (which are
strings of numbers) are hard to remember, the DNS
allows a familiar string of letters (the "domain
name") to be used instead. So rather than typing "184.108.40.206," you
can type "www.icann.org."
What is ICANN's Role?
ICANN is responsible for coordinating the management
of the technical elements of the DNS to ensure universal
resolvability so that all users of the Internet can
find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing
the distribution of unique technical identifiers
used in the Internet's operations, and delegation
of Top-Level Domain names (such as .com, .info, etc.).
Other issues of concern to Internet users, such
as the rules for financial transactions, Internet
content control, unsolicited commercial email (spam),
and data protection are outside the range of ICANN's
mission of technical coordination.
How does ICANN work?
Within ICANN's structure, governments and international
treaty organizations work in partnership with businesses,
organizations, and skilled individuals involved in
building and sustaining the global Internet. Innovation
and continuing growth of the Internet bring forth
new challenges for maintaining stability. Working
collectively, ICANN's participants address those
issues that directly concern ICANN's mission of technical
coordination. Consistent with the principle of maximum
self-regulation in the high-tech economy, ICANN is
perhaps the foremost example of collaboration by
the various constituents of the Internet community.
ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse
Board of Directors overseeing the policy development
process. ICANN's President directs an international
staff, working from three continents, who ensure
that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the
Designed to respond to the demands of rapidly changing
technologies and economies, the flexible, readily
implemented policy development process originates
in the three Supporting Organizations. Advisory Committees
from individual user organizations, and technical
communities work with the Supporting Organizations
to create appropriate and effective policies. Over
eighty governments closely advise the Board of Directors
via the Governmental Advisory Committee.
Among ICANN's recent accomplishments:
ICANN established market competition for generic
domain name (gTLD) registrations resulting in a lowering
of domain name costs by 80% and saving consumers
and businesses over US$1 billion annually in domain
ICANN implemented a Uniform Domain Name Dispute
Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has been used to
resolve more than 5000 disputes over the rights to
domain names. The UDRP is designed to be efficient
and cost effective.
Working in coordination with the appropriate technical
communities and stakeholders, ICANN adopted guidelines
for the deployment of Internationalized Domain Names
(IDN), opening the way for registration of domains
in hundreds of the world's languages.
ICANN's Ongoing Work
In 2000, ICANN introduced seven new gTLDs: .aero,
.biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro. The
ICANN community is currently exploring possibilities
to add additional gTLDs.
In response to community concerns over privacy and
accessibility, ICANN is hosting several workshops
regarding Whois, the public database of domain name
With the deployment of IPv6, the new IP address
numbering protocol, global network interoperability
continues to be a primary mission for ICANN.
ICANN Welcomes Participation
Participation in ICANN is open to all who have an
interest in global Internet policy as it relates
to ICANN's mission of technical coordination. ICANN
provides many online forums which are accessible
through ICANN's website, and the Supporting Organizations
and Advisory Committees have active mailing lists
for participants. Additionally, ICANN holds public
meetings throughout the year. Recent meetings have
been held in Bucharest, Montreal, Shanghai, Rio de
Janeiro, and Accra.
For more information on the Supporting Organizations
and Advisory Committees, please refer to their websites:
Address Supporting Organization (ASO) - <www.aso.icann.org>
Country Code Domain Name Supporting Organization
(CCNSO) - <www.ccnso.icann.org>
Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) - <www.gnso.icann.org>
At-Large Advisory Committee - <www.alac.icann.org>
Governmental Advisory Committee - <www.gac.icann.org>
More information on ICANN can be found on ICANN's