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What's the effect of ICANN's role and work on the Internet?

ICANN plays a unique role in the infrastructure of the Internet. Through its contracts with registries (such as dot-com or dot-info) and registrars (companies that sell domains names to individuals and organisations), ICANN helps define how the domain name system functions and expands.


ICANN created the registrar market (together with an accreditation system) in order to introduce greater competition on the Internet. The result has been several hundred companies able to sell domains which itself led to a dramatic reduction in the cost of domains - an 80 percent fall. There is now a diverse and vibrant market in the supply of the Internet’s basic building block.

That accreditation process is currently undergoing reform in order to keep in up-to-date with a rapidly changing domain name market.

Dispute resolution

ICANN helped design and implement a low-cost system for resolving disputes over domain name ownership. The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) has been used tens of thousands of times to resolve ownership disputes, avoiding the need for costly and complex recourse to the courts.

New top-level domains

ICANN approves the introduction of new "generic top-level domains" to the Internet - a process that expands the online space available. So far, ICANN has introduced 13 new top-level domains to the Internet, ranging from dot-asia to dot-travel, accounting for over six million domains. ICANN has also developed a refined process to introduce further TLDs that is being finalised with applications expected in early 2010.

Internationalized domain names

Through its decision-making processes, ICANN has adopted guidelines for the introduction of internationalised domain names (IDNs), opening the way for domain registrations in hundreds of the world’s languages - something that will expand the use and the influence of the Internet globally to new heights.

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."