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What Is ICANN?

ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers. These include domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .UK), as well as the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols. Computers use these identifiers to reach each other over the Internet. Careful management of these resources is vital to the Internet's operation, so ICANN's global stakeholders meet regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic and country code Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function.

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.

What is the Domain Name System?

The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users find their way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address called its "IP address" (Internet Protocol address). Because IP addresses (which are strings of numbers) are hard to remember, the DNS allows a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead. So rather than typing "192.0.34.163," you can type www.icann.org.

ICANN's Role?

ICANN is responsible for coordinating the management of the technical elements of the DNS to ensure universal resolvability so that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique technical identifiers used in the Internet's operations, and delegation of Top-Level Domain names (such as .com, .info, etc.).

The Internet domain name system (DNS) consists of a directory, organized hierarchically, of all the domain names and their corresponding computers registered to particular companies and persons using the Internet. When you register a domain name, it will be associated with the computer on the Internet you designate during the period the registration is in effect. From that computer, you can create a website which will be accessible to Internet users around the world.