Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

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Definition of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Network Encyclopedia.

What is ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)?

ICANN is a nonprofit corporation that will take over the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and some other Internet-management organizations.

ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be responsible for such functions as:

Until now, the U.S. company Network Solutions has exclusively managed the registration of domain names and has maintained the DNS database. ICANN will open up the process and allow competition in the DNS registration arena by creating guidelines for determining the following:

  • Who can function as a domain name registry
  • Policies on fees and privacy rights for domain name registries
  • How disputes will be resolved between domain name registries
  • What new top-level domain names will be allowed

History of ICANN

Before the establishment of ICANN, the IANA function of administering registries of Internet protocol identifiers (including the distributing top-level domains and IP addresses) was performed by Jon Postel, a Computer Science researcher who had been involved in the creation of ARPANET, first at UCLA and then at USC-ISI. In 1997 Postel testified before Congress that this had come about as a “side task” to this research work. The Information Sciences Institute was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, as was SRI International’s Network Information Center, which also performed some assigned name functions

As the Internet grew and expanded globally, the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated a process to establish a new organization to perform the IANA functions. On January 30, 1998, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, issued for comment, “A Proposal to Improve the Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses.” The proposed rulemaking, or “Green Paper”, was published in the Federal Register on February 20, 1998, providing the opportunity for public comment. NTIA received more than 650 comments as of March 23, 1998, when the comment period closed.

The Green Paper proposed certain actions designed to privatize the management of Internet names and addresses in a manner that allows for the development of competition and facilitates global participation in Internet management. The Green Paper proposed for discussion a variety of issues relating to DNS management including private sector creation of a new not-for-profit corporation (the “new corporation”) managed by a globally and functionally representative board of directors. ICANN was formed in response to this policy.[citation needed] ICANN managed the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) under contract to the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) and pursuant to an agreement with the IETF.

ICANN was incorporated in California on September 30, 1998, with entrepreneur and philanthropist Esther Dyson as founding chairwoman. It is a nonprofit public benefit corporation “organized under the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for charitable and public purposes.”

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