Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

ICANN is the short form for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers which manages the maintenance of namespaces and numerical spaces which enable secure and stable operation of the internet. ICANN performs the technical maintenance of IP Address pools and Domain Name Servers(DNS). ICANN was incorporated in California on September 30, 1998. Its formation was announced earlier on September 17, 1998. It was originally headquartered at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) building and now operates out of the Playa Vista neighborhood in Venice, Los Angeles.

ICANN Structure

The ICANN is governed by a 16 member board which has the following members:

  • Eight members nominated by a committee representing all constituencies of ICANN
  • Six representatives from Supporting Organizations of ICANN
  • Sub-groups that work on parts of ICANN policies
  • One At Large representative from Internet users around the world selected with the help of various technical and regulatory advisory committees allied to ICANN
  • The President of the Board appointed by ICANN, who also handles the CEO function

ICANN is supported by three supporting organisations:

  • Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO): Formulates policy on generic top-level domains (gTLDs)
  • Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO): Formulates policy on country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs)
  • Address Supporting Organization (ASO): Formulates policy on IP addresses.

The advisory bodies that are allied to ICANN are:

  • Governmental Advisory Committee: Consists of representatives from 111 states and other territories and groupings which are:
    • 108 UN members
    • The Holy See(Vatican City)
    • Cook Islands
    • Niue
    • Taiwan
    • Hong Kong
    • Bermuda
    • Montserrat
    • The European Commission
    • The African Union Commission
  • At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC): Internet users from around the world nominated through Regional At-Large Organizations (RALO) and Nominating Committee
  • Root Server System Advisory Committee: Advises on operations of the DNS root server system.
  • Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC): Studies security issues related to ICANN’s mandate
  • Technical Liaison Group (TLG): Representatives of various technical and scientific organisations focussing on the internet.

The ICANN along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also manages the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) dealing with Domain Name registration.

ICANN Whois is a utility which allows users to get details of the registering entity for generic domain names. The utility is under review in light of privacy concerns.

ICANN is useful for UPSC 2019 due to the changing nature of the Cybersecurity landscape. Cybersecurity is a subtopic of the Security Topic in General Studies Paper 3 for UPSC Mains and basics of cyber security for UPSC syllabus is one area where there is a chance to score well whenever a question is asked. Questions related to ICANN have also appeared under current affairs in Science and Technology for IAS Prelims.

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