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Welcome to ICANN!

Thanks for visiting! If you’re new to ICANN, we built this page for you. It contains resources that can help you quickly understand who we are and what we do.

Welcome to ICANN’s global community supporting the vision of "one world, one Internet." We warmly encourage your participation.

What Does ICANN Do?

To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer -- a name or a number. That address must 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.

In more technical terms, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) coordinates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, which are key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet's underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS). The IANA functions include: (1) the coordination of the assignment of technical protocol parameters including the management of the address and routing parameter area (ARPA) top-level domain; (2) the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management such as generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domains; (3) the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and (4) other services. ICANN performs the IANA functions under a U.S. Government contract.

Learn more. You can download a free Beginner’s Guide to Domain Names and a Beginner’s Guide to Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses from our E-Learning pages.

How Does ICANN Work?

Besides providing technical operations of vital DNS resources, ICANN also defines policies for how the "names and numbers" of the Internet should run. The work moves forward in a style we describe as the "bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model:"

  • Bottom up. At ICANN, rather than the Board of Directors solely declaring what topics ICANN will address, members of sub-groups in ICANN can raise issues at the grassroots level. Then, if the issue is worth addressing and falls within ICANN’s remit, it can rise through various Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations until eventually policy recommendations are passed to the Board for a vote.
  • Consensus-driven. Through its By-laws, processes, and international meetings, ICANN provides the arena where all advocates can discuss Internet policy issues. Almost anyone can join most of ICANN’s volunteer Working Groups, assuring broad representation of the world’s perspectives. Hearing all points of view, searching for mutual interests, and working toward consensus take time, but the process resists capture by any single interest– an important consideration when managing a resource as vital as the global Internet.
  • Multi-stakeholder model. ICANN’s inclusive approach treats the public sector, the private sector, and technical experts as peers. In the ICANN community, you’ll find registries, registrars, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), intellectual property advocates, commercial and business interests, non-commercial and non-profit interests, representation from more than 100 governments, and a global array of individual Internet users. All points of view receive consideration on their own merits. ICANN’s fundamental belief is that all users of the Internet deserve a say in how it is run.

To learn more about ICANN’s policy development processes:

What Has ICANN Accomplished?

Here are just a few highlights of what our bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model has produced:

  • ICANN established market competition for generic domain name (gTLD) registrations resulting in a lowering of domain name costs by 80% and saving consumers and businesses over US$1 billion annually in domain registration fees.
  • ICANN implemented an efficient and cost-effective Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has been used to resolve thousands of disputes over the rights to domain names.
  • Working in coordination with the appropriate technical communities and stakeholders, ICANN adopted guidelines for the deployment of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), opening the way for registration of domains in hundreds of the world's languages.
  • Verisign, ICANN and NTIA jointly completed deployment of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) for the root zone in July 2010. These extensions make certain kinds of cyberfraud much more difficult to perpetrate. As of 30 June 2011, 70 TLDs had adopted DNSSEC, including two of the largest TLDs -- .com and .de.
  • ICANN created the New gTLD Program, so that any established entity in the world can apply to operate its own top-level domain. Many of these new gTLDs will go online in 2013.
  • The world broadly accepts ICANN as the place to work out Internet governance policies. As 2011 ended, the Governmental Advisory Committee represented 109 nations (plus the European Union and the Vatican). The Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) represented more than 120 country code domains. The At-Large Advisory Committee represented 134 At-Large Structures (ALSes) from all geographic regions.

ICANN Welcomes Your Participation

If you have an interest in global Internet policy related to ICANN’s mission of technical coordination, we encourage you to participate. ICANN provides many online forums through this website, and the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees have active mailing lists for participants. Additionally, ICANN holds public meetings throughout the year.

At any given time, many of the groups working on policy issues are seeking public input. You are always welcome to lend them your perspective, on the Public Comment Forum.

For more information on the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, please refer to their respective websites or pages:

  • Address Supporting Organization (ASO)
  • At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)
  • Country Code Domain Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO)
  • Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)
  • Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)
  • Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC)
  • Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)
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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."