ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is a California non-profit corporation consisting largely of Internet Society Members, and was created on September 18 1998 in order to take over a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed on behalf of the US Government by other organizations, notably IANA.

The contract for ICANN came from the US Department of Commerce and was "sole sourced", which means no-one else (such as the Open Root Server Confederation which was also formed at the time to bid on the contract) was able to submit a bid to perform the task. These tasks include managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses. To date, much of its work has concerned the introduction of seven new generic top-level domains. Its activities, however, are very controversial.

Paul Twomey is the President/CEO of ICANN, since March 27 2003.

On March 14, 2002, in a public meeting in Accra, in Ghana, ICANN decided amongst other things, to reduce direct public ("at large") participation in how it is run.

During this same period, one of the few publicly elected board members, Karl Auerbach, had to sue ICANN in Superior Court in California in order to see accounting records, which were ultimately released to the public in August 2002.

ICANN holds their periodic public meetings for the expressed purpose of staying in touch with its membership. Critics note that the locations of these meetings are often in countries with disproportionally small Internet access and far away from locations that the majority of the Internet-using public can afford to reach, thus making public input or participation less likely. Minutes of the meetings are sometimes kept secret. Supporters reply that ICANN has a worldwide remit and a key part of its mission is to build Internet use where it is weak. Consequently it should minimally hold its meetings in each of the continents in turn. Others criticise ICANN as being too subservient to US interests, given that the Internet is a worldwide resource and its formation was created through contributions from world-wide scientists.

In September and October 2003 ICANN played a crucial role in the conflict over VeriSign and its "wildcard" DNS service Site Finder. After an open letter from ICANN issuing an ultimatum to VeriSign, the company voluntarily shut down the service on October 4 2003. Following this step VeriSign filed a lawsuit against ICANN on February 27 2004, claiming that ICANN had overstepped its authority, seeking through the suit to reduce ambiguity over ICANN's authority. Subject of the claim is not only Site Finder, but also VeriSign's Waiting List Service. The claim was dismissed in August 2004.

At the meeting of ICANN in Rome taking place from March 2 to March 6 2004, the Corporation agreed to ask approval of the US Department of Commerce for the Waiting List Service of VeriSign.

On 17 May 2004, ICANN published a proposed budget for the year 2004-05. It included proposals to increase the openness and professionalism of its operations, but almost doubled the proposed expenditure, from US $8.27m to $15.83m. The increase was to be funded by the introduction of new top-level domains, charges to all Domain Registries, and a "tax" on all domain name registrations, renewals and transfers (initially 20˘ US for all domains within a country-code top-level domain, and 25˘ for all others). The Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR), which represents the Internet registries of 39 countries, has rejected the 91% increase, accusing ICANN of a lack of financial prudence and refusing to support what it sees as ICANN's "unrealistic political and operational targets". However, ICANN ignored the criticism and now the registry agreement for the Top-Level Domains (TLD) .jobs and .travel reveals that it has put a $2 per-transaction charge on every domain the licensed companies sell or renew.

Along with the successful negotiations of the .TRAVEL and .JOBS namespace, .XXX, .MOBI, and .CAT are some of the new applicants in front of ICANN. The recent introduction of the .EU Top Level Domain to the root, and the currently proposed .ASIA multiregional suffix are developments to watch.

ICANN is making strides towards their aggressive and ambitious goals that sit in front of them, and they are recently doing outreach to improve public perception and correct misunderstandings of their motives and mandate. In May of 2005, ICANN participated in the Domain Roundtable Conference (http://domainroundtable.com) in Seattle.

Meanwhile, ICANN is seeking to privatize itself, withdrawing from its connections to the US Government and the US Department of Commerce. Support from these National Top Level Domain internet registries is a missing critical milestone within the commitments that ICANN has made to the US Department of Commerce.

See also

External links

es:ICANN eo:ICANN fr:Internet corporation for assigned names and numbers it:ICANN nl:Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ja:ICANN pl:ICANN fi:ICANN zh:ICANN


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