Originally Published on : March, 17 - 2017Updated on: June 25 - 2022 From a…
Reading Time: 5 minutes
• ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet.
The ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the private (non-government) non-profit corporation, organized from the Secretary of State of the State of California in the U.S. 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. The ICANN is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation. The global Internet community work together to promote the stability and integrity of the Internet.
In other words, the ICANN is the overseeing body for the domain names on the Internet.
History of the ICANN
ICANN was created on September 18, 1998, and incorporated on September 30, 1998 in the State of California. It is headquartered in the Playa Vista section of Los Angeles, California. On September 29, 2006, ICANN signed a new agreement with the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) that moves the organization further towards a solely multistakeholder governance model.
On October 1, 2009 the U.S. Department of Commerce gave up its control of ICANN, completing ICANN’s transition.
ICANN created the registrar market, in which hundreds of registrars sell domain names for new websites. When you purchase a domain, you do so through a domain registrar, but the the ICANN is the body that supervises the registrars. The ICANN also approves new top-level domains on the Internet, such as “.asia” or “.travel.”
Most visibly, much of its 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. The numbering facilities ICANN manages include the Internet Protocol address spaces for IPv4 and IPv6, and assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries. ICANN also maintains registries of Internet protocol identifiers.
ICANN performs the actual technical maintenance work of the central Internet address pools and DNS Root registries pursuant to the IANA function contract.
Its primary principles of operation is helping to preserve the operational stability of the Internet; to promote competition; to achieve broad representation of the global Internet community; and to develop policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.
What is the Domain Name System?
The Domain Name System, or DNS, is a system designed to make the Internet accessible to human beings. 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. The ICANN administers the system that resolves domain names. For example, it’s easier for humans to remember www.icann.org than 188.8.131.52, – which is how computers on the network know it. As such, ICANN helps coordinate how IP addresses are supplied to ensure that no two sites are given the same address.
The main way computers that make up the Internet find one another is through a series of numbers, with each number (called an “IP address”) correlating to a different device. However it is difficult for the human mind to remember long lists of numbers so the DNS uses letters rather than numbers, and then links a precise series of letters with a precise series of numbers.
One advantage to this system – apart from making the network much easier to use for people – is that a particular domain name does not have to be tied to one particular computer because the link between a particular domain and a particular IP address can be changed quickly and easily. This change will then be recognised by the entire Internet within 48 hours thanks to the constantly updating DNS infrastructure. The result is an extremely flexible system.
A domain name itself comprises two elements: before and after “the dot”. The part to the right of the dot, such as “com”, “net”, “org” and so on, is known as a “top-level domain” or TLD. One company in each case (called a registry), is in charge of all domains ending with that particular TLD and has access to a full list of domains directly under that name, as well as the IP addresses with which those names are associated.
The part before the dot is the domain name that you register and which is then used to provide online systems such as websites, email and so on. These domains are sold by a large number of “registrars”, free to charge whatever they wish, although in each case they pay a set per-domain fee to the particular registry under whose name the domain is being registered.
ICANN draws up contracts with each registry*. It also runs an accreditation system for registrars. It is these contracts that provide a consistent and stable environment for the domain name system, and hence the Internet.
In summary then, the DNS provides an addressing system for the Internet so people can find particular websites. It is also the basis for email and many other online uses.
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 Internet community.
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.
What ICANN doesn’t do?
• ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet.
• It cannot stop spam
• It doesn’t deal with access to the Internet.
Although those points are true, its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.