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ICANN – What Is ICANN?

Online users are required to type a number or name in their computers to connect with another user over the Internet. The address needs to be unique to help users locate each other. ICANN is responsible for allocating IP addresses and managing these unique identifiers globally. Without this coordination, the global Internet would not be possible today. 

ICANN was created in 1998 as a non-profit organization. It was made of a global team of dedicated professionals committed to making the Internet an interoperable, stable, and secure resource. 

It is important to mention that ICANN has no control over online content. It cannot prevent spam or control access to the Internet. However, its ability to coordinate and designate names makes it an important stakeholder in the evolution and expansion of the Internet. 

Find out more about the ICANN and its Fact Sheet in this article.

What Is ICANN and its Purpose?

ICANN is the acronym for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is a non-profit organization responsible for supervising the Domain Name System and assigning IP addresses. 

All devices connected to the Internet, including home computers and servers, have a designated IP address. However, ICANN cannot directly assign a unique IP address to every computer or device. So, ICANN assigns IP addresses as blocks to internet service providers, educational institutions, and companies. Internet service providers or companies then assign IP addresses to different devices connected to the same network. 

Although ICANN is based in the U.S., it is an international community. The organization is dedicated to ensuring operational stability, maintaining competition online, and developing policies that preserve consensus-based processes.

What Does ICANN Do?

ICANN developed a registrar market. This process enabled thousands of registrars to sell domain names to websites. Anyone who wants to create a website must purchase a domain through a domain registrar. ICANN is the organization that supervises and manages the registrars. It is the responsibility of ICANN to establish top-level new domains on the Internet, such as “Travel” or “Europe.”

What Are ICANN?

The registration data lookup tool by ICANN allows new website owners to search existing registration data for new domain names. The relationship between IP addresses and ICANN is the same as between domain names and humans. There cannot be two domains or two same IP addresses with the same name or numbers. ICANN is not responsible for running this system, only supervising it. It coordinates the process of assigning IP addresses to ensure no repetition. ICANN is also the central source for IP addresses.

Why Do We Need ICANN?

The domain name system allows human beings to access the Internet. Computers communicate with each other with a series of numbers called the IP address. Unfortunately, IP addresses are made up of long and complicated numbers that are impossible to remember, especially when a network is connected to various devices. So, instead of numbers, DNS uses letters and associates a series of letters to different numbers. 

Thus, a website, for example, “Facebook,” can be found as “facebook.com” instead of “112.0.11.8.” Another benefit is that a domain name does not have to be attached to a specific computer because a particular IP address and its link to a certain domain name change easily and quickly. Thanks to the DNS infrastructure, this change is identified by the entire Internet. 

A domain system has two elements: the left and right parts of the “dot.” The right parts of the dot are “.org,” “.net,” or “.com.” These are known as the “top-level” domains. A specific registry is responsible for ending a domain and has complete control over the list of domains in those specific names. It also has access to the IP addresses associated with those names. The left part of the dot is the domain’s name, which creates an online system. For example, Facebook is a domain name. Registrars are responsible for selling or assigning these domains. 

ICANN is the organization supervising this entire process. It makes contracts with registrars and manages the accreditation system for them. ICANN and its contracts with the registrars create a stable and consistent Internet and domain name system environment.

How to Use ICANN?

Here is how ICANN makes technical changes in the internet system: 

  • Anytime an issue or concern arises or is discussed within a supporting organization or advisory committees, a report is produced and made public for review. Suppose the requested changes affect any other team of ICANN. In that case, that team also reviews changes or feedback and gives an appropriate response. The final result is again presented for public review. 
  • A report highlighting recommendations and previous discussions is sent to the ICANN board in the final process. The global board of advisories discusses the issue, approves to reject ideas, and issues a final review to support the organization with details of problems that must be resolved. The process is rerun till all parties agree to the change and the final report is presented to the Board of Directors. 

What About Enterprise Usage of ICANN?

Any business that is performing online is affected by the work of ICANN. ICANN plays a vital role in the maintenance and management of the Internet. ICANN is responsible for changing and maintaining the Internet, ensuring that it is accessed and open to all through a single network.

With multi-stakeholder control, ICANN manages the Internet. However, because ICANN is operating as an independent body, many organizations worldwide have expressed apprehension, resisting the concept of an individual, government of a single body having complete control of the Internet. 

However, ICANN is not responsible for maintaining, controlling, or altering online content, although there are concerns about international governments controlling the content that appears on the DNS. Furthermore, there are additional apprehensions about how ICANN manages controversial content, as taking down domains is considered repressing freedom of speech.

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