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Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Website: http://www.icann.org/

Category: Internet

Year of Foundation: 1998

Location of Foundation: CA, USA

Location of Headquarters: Marina del Rey, CA, USA

Brief Description: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers describes itself as follows: 'To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn't have one global Internet.' (source: www.icann.org; accessed 27 April 2010).

Founding Rationales:

According to a paper circulated by the U.S. government's National Telecommunications and Information Administration in January 1998: 'Today's Internet is an outgrowth of U.S. government investments in packet-switching technology and communications networks carried out under agreements with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other U.S. research agencies. The government encouraged bottom-up development of networking technologies through work at NSF, which established the NSFNET as a network for research and education. The NSFNET fostered a wide range of applications, and in 1992 the U.S. Congress gave the National Science Foundation statutory authority to commercialize the NSFNET, which formed the basis for today's Internet. As a legacy, major components of the domain name system are still performed by or subject to agreements with agencies of the U.S. government. ... From its origins as a U.S.-based research vehicle, the Internet is rapidly becoming an international medium for commerce, education and communication. The traditional means of organizing its technical functions need to evolve as well. The pressures for change are coming from many different quarters: There is widespread dissatisfaction about the absence of competition in domain name registration. Mechanisms for resolving conflict between trademark holders and domain name holders are expensive and cumbersome. Without changes, a proliferation of lawsuits could lead to chaos as tribunals around the world apply the antitrust law and intellectual property law of their jurisdictions to the Internet. Many commercial interests, staking their future on the successful growth of the Internet, are calling for a more formal and robust management structure. An increasing percentage of Internet users reside outside of the U.S., and those stakeholders want a larger voice in Internet coordination. As Internet names increasingly have commercial value, the decision to add new top-level domains cannot continue to be made on an ad hoc basis by entities or individuals that are not formally accountable to the Internet community. As the Internet becomes commercial, it becomes inappropriate for U.S. research agencies (NSF and DARPA) to participate in and fund these functions. ... We propose the creation of a private, not-for-profit corporation (the new corporation) to manage the coordinated functions in a stable and open institutional framework. The new corporation should operate as a private entity for the benefit of the Internet as a whole. The new corporation would have the following authority: 1. to set policy for and direct the allocation of number blocks to regional number registries for the assignment of Internet addresses; 2. to oversee the operation of an authoritative root server system; 3. to oversee policy for determining, based on objective criteria clearly established in the new organization's charter, the circumstances under which new top-level domains are added to the root system; and 4. to coordinate the development of other technical protocol parameters as needed to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet.'

Source: 'A Proposal to Improve Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses. Discussion Draft 1/30/98.' (at www.ntia.doc.gov; accessed 27 April 2010).

Evolution of Membership:

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