ICANN is an acronym that stands for the “International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” and they are an organization that, simply put, organizes, assigns and tracks the various numbers such as IP addresses on the Internet.
Everything on the Internet has a number. Each website, every computer that access the internet, every country and every region are all assigned various numbers. ICANN is responsible for making sure these numbers don’t get confused or assigned to more than once. Without the ICANN, there would be no global, worldwide Internet as we know it today.
Originally, these things were monitored and controlled by the IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Association, which was contracted out primarily by the US Government to handle the assignation of various numbers on the Internet. These duties, however, are part now of the duties of ICANN, who has established itself as a more internationally-minded organization.
ICANN has done much for the Internet, and has helped to shape it into the World Wide Web we know today. A few of their accomplishments include:
- Establishing market competition and enabling the cost of registering domain names to drop by 80%
- Acted to resolve hundreds of domain name disputes
- Adopted guidelines for international web domain names
- Helped to make cyber fraud more difficult
- Became the defacto organization to turn to if help is needed working out Internet governance issues.
ICANN encourages anyone with a stake in global internet policy to interact with them. They have several ways that they can be contacted, such as through mailing lists or their public meetings. Additional ways to contact the organization include doing so through varous forums and communities on its official website. Joining ICANN is free.
The organization believes heavily in accountability and transparency for all of its actions, and public documents detailing its activities are available. Furthermore, the organization allows for periodic peer reviews to determine if they are, indeed, acting in accordance with their own rules and laws. Additionally, the organization regularly posts various documents on its website and allows for public comments to be made regarding those documents.
If some sort of violation is brought up, the organization has guidelines and bylaws for the situation to be reviewed by agencies and organizations independent of ICANN in an effort to make things as fair and umbiased as possible.