The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation responsible for coordinating and managing various aspects of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), IP address allocation, and protocol parameter assignment. It was founded in 1998 and operates under the oversight of the United States Department of Commerce. While ICANN, which was created on September 18, 1998, and incorporated on September 30, 1998 in the State of California, has its roots in the U.S. government, it is now, and continues to strive to be, an international, community-driven organization. Their management of an interoperable Internet covers over 180 million domain names, the allocation of more than 4 billion network addresses, and the support of approximately a trillion DNS look-ups everyday across 240 countries.
Most of ICANN’s work has concerned the Internet’s global Domain Name System, including policy development for internationalization of the DNS system, introduction of new generic top-level domains (TLDs), and the operation of root name servers.
ICANN’s primary functions include:
Domain Name System (DNS) Management: ICANN oversees the allocation and administration of domain names, such as .com, .org, .net, and country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs). It establishes policies, accredits domain registrars, and ensures the stability and security of the DNS.
IP Address Allocation: ICANN coordinates the global allocation of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which are unique numerical identifiers assigned to devices connected to the Internet. It works with regional Internet registries (RIRs) to distribute IP addresses to network operators and Internet service providers (ISPs) worldwide.
Protocol Parameter Assignment: ICANN manages the assignment of various protocol parameters used in Internet standards, including port numbers, protocol numbers, and protocol identifiers. These assignments are crucial for ensuring interoperability and consistent communication across the Internet.
Policy Development: ICANN facilitates the development of policies related to the Internet’s technical coordination and governance. It engages with various stakeholders, including governments, businesses, technical experts, and the Internet community, to establish policies that promote the Internet’s stability, security, and openness.
ICANN’s multistakeholder model allows for broad participation and input from individuals, organizations, and governments worldwide. It aims to ensure that Internet governance decisions are made collectively and in the best interest of the global Internet community.