The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit organization responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces and numerical spaces of the Internet, ensuring the network's stable and secure operation.
Established in 1998, ICANN has a broad scope of responsibilities that help keep the Internet running smoothly. These include:
- IP Address Space Allocation: ICANN coordinates the global pool of IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to ensure every device connected to the Internet has a unique identifier. This is done primarily through its IANA department.
- Top-Level Domain (TLD) Management: ICANN, through its IANA department, is responsible for the management and coordination of the DNS (Domain Name System) to ensure each domain name is unique and mapped correctly to its IP address. This includes both generic top-level domains (gTLDs like .com, .org, .net) and country code top-level domains (ccTLDs like .uk, .fr, .ca).
- Root Server System Management: ICANN helps coordinate the secure and stable operation of the Internet's root server system, which is a vital part of the global DNS.
- Registrar Accreditation: ICANN accredits domain name registrars, which are the companies that manage the reservation of Internet domain names.
- Policy Development: ICANN also works with various stakeholders around the world, including governments, the private sector, and the public, to develop policies related to the Internet's system of unique identifiers.
- Whois Database Maintenance: ICANN helps maintain and implement policies for the Whois database, which stores information about the registered users of an Internet resource, such as a domain name.
It's important to note that ICANN does not control content on the Internet, it cannot stop spam and it does not deal with access to the Internet. Its primary focus is on the global coordination of the DNS, IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, and other Internet protocol resources.