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ICANN Factsheet

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes. ICANN, a public benefit, non-profit entity, is the international organization responsible for the management and oversight of the coordination of the Internets domain name system and its unique identifiers.

ICANN was created through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN to transition management of the Domain Name System (DNS) from the U.S. government to the global community. The most recently issued version of the MoU is intended to be the last and sets out a series of goals for ICANN that, when achieved, will result in a fully independent ICANN organization.

The two keys to success in this role are the full participation of the international community and collaborative nature of the bottom-up policy development process.

The International Nature of ICANN in Relation to the Global Internet Community

  • Participation in ICANN is open to all who have an interest in global Internet policy as it relates to ICANN's mission of technical coordination. ICANN holds public meetings throughout the year. Recent meetings have been held in New Delhi, Los Angeles, San Juan, Lisbon and São Paulo.
  • The ICANN Board and staff reflect the international nature of the organization. The staff hails from right across the globe, including Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Turkey, Niger, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and more), exhibiting fluency in more than 14 languages. Similarly, the Board represents twelve nationalities and is fluent in many languages. ICANN has offices in Marina del Rey and Brussels. ICANN internationalization and outreach provide regional presences in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East - and will include the Pacific Rim.
  • The Supporting Organizations and Committees that lead the bottom-up policy development process are internationally based and populated. See the international complement of the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) as indicative of the international nature of the effort supporting that process.
  • The formation of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) is further internationalizing participation in the ICANN policy development process and also improves the ccTLD's (Country Code Managers') voice on the ICANN Board of Directors since the ccNSO will directly elect two board members.
  • The Internet is marvelously robust, with thousands of independent networks operating together to move traffic around the globe. ICANN inherently supports regional network development through its mission. European, Asian, Latin American and the African Internet communities are working effectively to build regional interconnections, belying the notion that all Internet traffic flows through North America.

ICANN Facilitation of DNS Policy Development through a Bottom-up, Collaborative Process

  • ICANN does not create or make Internet policy. Rather, policy is created through a bottom-up, transparent process involving all necessary constituencies and stakeholders in the Internet Community.
  • ICANN policy begins its development in the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees. The recognition that a policy is needed may arise from anywhere in the Internet community, the international ICANN Supporting Organizations and Committees (such as the Regional Internet Registries (through the ASO), the GNSO, the ALAC or the GAC), or the Country Code Managers (ccTLDs).
  • While ICANN is not an arm of any government, the ICANN by-laws provide specific mechanisms for soliciting, receiving and considering governmental inputs. That advice is received into the policy development process through the GAC.
  • There are several redundancies built into the policy making process to ensure that new policy addresses the needs of the entire Internet community and not one special interest area or geographical region. The ICANN structure and policy development processes also ensure governmental input is received at many levels.
  • ICANN's independence enables rapid response to changes within the commercial, technical and geopolitical landscape of the Internet and DNS. While rapid and flexible, the ICANN process also requires and considers input from all interested and affected constituencies.

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