What is ICANN?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a California based, not-for-profit organization that brings together individuals, industry, non-commercial and government representatives to discuss, debate and develop policies about the technical coordination of the internet’s domain name system. While ICANN’s scope is limited, its importance cannot be overestimated. While policies developed at ICANN affect mainly generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), some that are of a technical coordinating nature have an impact on country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). A perfect example of the latter is the framework described by ICANN that sets out the rules for the operation of internationalised domain names (such as top level domain names in Cyrillic and Greek). In addition to its policy role for technical coordination of the internet’s domain name system, ICANN is also the home of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). More information can be found at https://www.icann.org


What is IANA?

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority is the organisation responsible for maintaining the registries of the internet’s unique identifiers. These consist of three categories: the root zone management for domain names, maintaining the registries with protocol parameters and internet numbers (such as IP addresses and autonomous system numbers). Until now, the US department of commerce, more in particular the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), oversees the IANA operations based on a contract with ICANN. In March 2014, the NTIA announced that it intends to transition this stewardship to the global internet community. Since then, the IETF, IAB, RIRs and the stakeholders in the domain name industry have worked hard on a proposal that meets the criteria the NTIA had put in place. This process is known as the IANA stewardship transition process. More information can be found at https://www.iana.org.