What is ICANN?
So, what is ICANN? ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It’s a non-profit organization established in 1988 to oversee the Domain Name System (DNS) around which the Internet revolves. Without the DNS, the users would be unable to access websites or any content as there would be no IP addresses.
What is ICANN’s role in managing domain names and IP addresses
From domain name management to domain name registration and root zone management to IP address allocation and keeping the Internet safe and secure for everyone to use, ICANN plays a multifold role.
When it comes to domain name management, ICANN is responsible for creating and coordinating top-level domains like .com and .net, as well as country-level domains like .uk, .usa, .in,.ca, etc. ICANN must keep the reliability and viability of these names alive.
At the same time, it also supervises adding new generic TLDs to the list of domain names. It’s also responsible for overseeing any changes to the root zone file. The root zone list lists all the newly added TDLs; however, no new TDL can be added without coordinating with ICANN.
ICANN is also responsible for the allocation of IP addresses. It is through IP addresses that computers can connect to each other on the Internet. However, to make it easy to remember for humans, these numbers are turned into domain names. Behind the scenes, the IP address helps computers recognize the network.
The ICANN’s job here is to ensure that no two IP addresses are the same. It doesn’t run the system but helps coordinate and allot IP addresses to avoid repetition or clashes. Furthermore, ICANN is also considered a central repository for IP addresses. This means ICANN is responsible for sending out ranges to regional registries (a government center that keeps the record of regional internet numbers), after which they are distributed to the network providers (domain name companies).
How does ICANN coordinate the Domain Name System (DNS)?
The answer to what is ICANN can also be understood by its working. ICANN works to coordinate the domain name system with the help of supporting organizations. The two supporting organizations that help in the coordination of DNS include:
- The organizations that sell domain names
- The manager of top-level domains as per country codes
There are also government organizations that help ICANN in the process. There are also root server operators, security companies, registry operators, and domain name registrants that aid in the smooth management of the domain name system.
More clearly, each domain name has two parts: the part that starts after the .(dot) and the part that comes before the .(dot). The part after the dot is termed a TDL. There are a number of TDLs available. Registry is responsible for maintaining a record of all the domains of a particular TDL and the associated IP addresses. Similarly, registrars are responsible for the domain name that appears before the dot.
ICANN coordinates between the registry and registrars. It has contracts with each registry and sets an accreditation system for registrars. Through this process, ICANN coordinates the domain name system and works to make it consistent, secure, and stable.
The importance of ICANN’s policies and regulations for the Internet
ICANN’s policies and regulations are of the utmost importance for the smooth working of the Internet. It’s important:
- To maintain the security and credibility of the Internet
ICANN maintains the Internet’s security, reliability, and credibility by overseeing the domain names and IP addresses and working in accordance with its supporting organizations and governments in different regions.
- To maintain the global consistency of the DNS
It is responsible for making any technical decisions and changes to the Internet, resolving conflicts between registers and registrars, keeping the DNS safe from technical glitches, updating root servers, and more. Thus, it aims at establishing consistency in domain name system operations.
- For the governance of the Internet
Anyone around the globe can access the Internet. Each country and government has equal rights to enjoy its benefits. ICANN thus brings together all the stakeholders and ensures all parties are involved in the decision-making and policy development processes.
- To keep fair competition alive
ICANN is also important to encourage healthy competition between registers and registrars so that new competitive TDLs are introduced more clearly to reflect businesses’ brands and niches.
In conclusion, ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, plays a vital role in maintaining the Internet’s security, global consistency, governance, and fair competition. It oversees domain names and IP addresses and ensures a stable and accessible internet for all.