Apr 11, 2014

What does ICANN do?

What exactly is ICANN, and what does it do? There is discussion of the US Government ending oversight of ICANN, and now I’m seeing stories pop up about “the US handing control of the internet to (insert capital of scary foreign country here).” What does ICANN do exactly, and how will other countries “take over the internet” if the US isn’t in charge of ICANN oversight?


"The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN, /ˈaɪkæn/ EYE-kan) is a nonprofit organization that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN responsible for managing the DNS Root and the numbering system for IP addresses.

ICANN was created on September 18, 1998, and incorporated on September 30, 1998.[1] It is headquartered in the Playa Vista section of Los Angeles, California.

ICANN is responsible for the coordination of maintenance and methodology of several databases of unique identifiers related to the namespaces of the Internet, and ensuring the network's stable and secure operation.[2] The numbering facilities include the Internet Protocol address spaces (IPv4 and IPv6) and assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries. ICANN maintains registries of Internet protocol identifiers, and the management of the top-level domain name space (DNS root zone), which includes the operation of root name servers. Most visibly, much of its work has concerned the DNS policy development for internationalization of the DNS system and introduction of new generic top-level domains (TLDs). ICANN performs the actual technical maintenance work of the central Internet address pools and DNS root registries pursuant to the IANA function contract.

ICANN's primary principles of operation have been described as helping 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.[3]

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.[4]"

Right now a lot of other countries are more concerned about the US destroying online freedom than anyone else, and if even a fourth of what Edward Snowden revealed is true, they have a point. You are hearing political talking points and speculation, not facts. As ICANN’s president pointed out, the current US government role is “minor, ministerial and has no real impact on day-to-day operations of ICANN.” This article on ComputerWorld give more information about both sides of the issue. http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/542633/us_ntia_plan_end_icann_co...


As for what ICANN does, it is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Basically, it makes DNS work. ICANN has a page on their website that explains in detail what they do. http://www.icann.org/en/about/welcome

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