ICANN Acronyms and Terms

ICANN has hundreds of acronyms and terms, which can be confusing. We created this multilingual tool to help explain what these terms mean and facilitate your work within the ICANN community.

ICANN Acronyms and Terms

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The ASCII-compatible encoding of a valid Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) label. A-labels consist of the prefix “xn--” followed by a valid Punycode string.

Accountability and Transparency Review(ATRT Review)

A periodic review required by the ICANN Bylaws to assess ICANN’s execution of its commitment to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability, and transparency. The ATRT Review is designed to ensure that the outcomes of ICANN’s decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to the Internet community.

Section 4.6 in the ICANN Bylaws provides details about performing an ATRT Review. Reports from past ATRT Reviews are available on the ICANN website, along with progress updates for any ATRT Reviews that are underway.

accountability mechanisms

Mechanisms established in the ICANN Bylaws that enable review and reconsideration of ICANN’s actions. These mechanisms are:

Address Supporting Organization(ASO)

One of three Supporting Organizations in the ICANN community. The ASO reviews and develops recommendations and advises the ICANN Board on global Internet number resource policy.

The ASO Address Council manages the global policy development activities of the ASO.

Address Supporting Organization Address Council(ASO AC)

A council within the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) that manages the ASO’s global policy development process. This council is composed of 15 members, including 3 representatives from each of the Regional Internet Registries. The members of this council also serve on the Number Resource Organization Number Council.

Advanced Research Projects Agency(ARPA)

An agency within the U.S. Department of Defense established in 1958 to research advanced defense technology. The agency, later renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), funded and coordinated some of the initial technology for the modern Internet.

Advanced Research Projects Agency Network(ARPANET)

A pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers. Its initial demonstration in 1969 led to the Internet, whose world-changing consequences unfold on a daily basis today. A seminal step in this sequence took place in 1968 when ARPA contracted BBN Technologies to build the first routers, which one year later enabled ARPANET to become operational.

Advisory Committee(AC)

A formally recognized body under the ICANN Bylaws that is charged with advising the ICANN Board on policies within ICANN’s mission and scope. The Bylaws recognize four ACs:

The Advisory Committees help shape the policy recommendations that the ICANN community develops and refines through its Supporting Organizations.

Africa Top Level Domains Organization(AfTLD)

A nonprofit association of country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registries in the African region. AfTLD provides a forum where its members can discuss policy matters affecting the ccTLD registries in their region. The association also serves as a channel of communication between its membership and Internet governance bodies such as ICANN.

African Regional At-Large Organization(AFRALO)

The Regional At-Large Organization (RALO) that serves as the main forum and coordination point for public input to ICANN from the At-Large community in the African region. AFRALO keeps the At-Large Structures (ALSes) in its community informed about significant ICANN news. It also establishes mechanisms to facilitate two-way communication between the ALSes and ICANN policymakers, so ALS members can share their views on pending issues.

Annual General Meeting(AGM)

The third Public Meeting in ICANN’s three-meeting annual cycle. This meeting features workshops, working meetings, and sessions on topics of interest. Additionally, it provides two Public Forums where the ICANN community can speak directly with the ICANN Board. New members of the ICANN Board of Directors also take their seats at the Annual General Meeting.

Anti-Phishing Working Group(APWG)

A global coalition of industry, law enforcement, and governments that work to unify the global response to phishing attacks and other cybercrimes. The APWG is a clearinghouse for cybercrime event data, cybercrime response utilities, and programs that promote cybercrime awareness and research.

ICANN is a participant in the APWG.

anycast instance

A server that responds to an anycast Internet Protocol (IP) address. With anycast routing, a server is replicated across multiple network locations. The servers are then assigned to the same anycast IP address. Each server assigned to that IP address is referred to as an anycast instance (or simply an instance). When a computer sends a message to an anycast IP address, Internet routers automatically direct the message to the nearest (in terms of routing distance) available instance of that server. Anycast routing helps reduce latency and improve reliability.

Many of the authoritative name servers in the Domain Name System use anycast routing.


An entity applying to ICANN for a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) within a designated application submission period.

Applicant Guidebook

In the New Generic Top-Level Domain Program (New gTLD Program), a document that describes the requirements of the gTLD application and evaluation processes.

application round

In the New Generic Top-Level Domain Program (New gTLD Program), the completion of the application process for all gTLD applications received during one application submission period. The Applicant Guidebook explains the terms and conditions for a specific application round. Subsequent rounds are subject to updated guidebooks.