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ICANN: 10 Years Old Today | A decade of multi-stakeholder decision-making and coordination

ICANN is ten years old today.

On 30 September 1998, ICANN's articles of incorporation were officially filed, recognizing "a nonprofit public benefit corporation...not organized for the private gain of any person."

One month later, the first organizational meeting of the Board of Directors was held in New York at the Holiday Inn JFK and named Michael Roberts as the Interim President and CEO, and Esther Dyson as Chairman.

Since then there have been two more chairman, two new CEOs, dozens of Board members, Committee members and Advisory Group members, 153 official meetings of the Board, 32 international public meetings, and, of course, thousands of individuals that have all contributed to making ICANN a leading, global, multi-stakeholder organization that runs the domain name system through a process of coordination not control.

Current chairman Peter Dengate Thrush reflected today: "Ten years ago, there were 100 million people that used the Internet. Its inventors originally thought the network would only ever have to cater for one million users. But in the creation of ICANN, the Internet community and the US Government recognized they needed to privatize the domain name system to increase competition and international participation.

"Thanks to that decision, and with nearly one-and-a-half billion people online, the network goes from strength to strength. And we hope, with the plans we have laid on the table, that the next ten years of extraordinary growth also occurs seamlessly for ordinary Internet user."

So, what has ICANN done in the past decade?

  • Back in 1998, there was a single registrar, charging $50 a year for domain names; now there are over 900 ICANN-accredited registrars 1 and a domain costs from just $6 2
  • Helped the domain name system grow from roughly three million domains a decade ago to over 160 million today 3
  • Expanded the Internet's generic top-level domains from three (dotcom, dotnet and dotorg) to 16, including .info, .biz, .cat, .asia, .mobi and .name 4
  • Seen over 35,000 domains go through the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process 5, a faster, cheaper and more efficient alternative to the law courts for ownership disputes
  • Developed policies with the full involvement of governments, business, the technical community and individual Net users that make the Internet's addressing system able to adapt to the radical new uses that the network is put to every year

President and CEO of ICANN, Paul Twomey, said: "ICANN now represents a truly international organization. We have offices in Los Angeles, Brussels and Washington, as well as presences in a number of other countries. Board and Committee members come from every corner of the planet and the ICANN community is as diverse as the Internet itself. I look forward to seeing ICANN's success continue for the next 10 years and beyond."

About ICANN:

To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn't have one global Internet. ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet.

ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet's unique identifiers.

ICANN doesn't control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn't deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet's naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.

Media Contacts:

Jason Keenan
Media Advisor, ICANN
P: +1 310 382 4004


2Prices vary according to registry.

3 Source: Zooknic


5 Source: WIPO and NAF websites

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."