ICANN - new organisation and new challenges

22 June 2010 Author: EIFonline

Rod Beckstrom, the CEO of ICANN was the keynote speaker at the EIF Dinner on 22 June 2010. Because of the technical nature of what ICANN does, Rod explained 'in plain English' what the unique roles and identifiers of ICANN are.

ICANN is firstly responsible for the domain name system. It is the coordination authority for domain names of the Top Level Domains. Today there are over 200 million domain names registered, connected through extensions such as .com, .eu, .net and many others. The country codes are managed nationally.

Secondly, ICANN is the central allocator of Internet IP addresses. Each day more Internet addresses are needed, and the old system of IPv4 is nearly full. Currently there is a transition process to the new IPv6 system that has trillions of addresses available. ICANN also coordinates this addressing with the regional registries,

On a third level, ICANN is responsible for the domain name system DNS. The DNS system basically allows us all to type in www.anything.eu and forwards us to the correct IP address without having to know what the IP address is. The same system also ensure that email gets addressed correctly and does not go to anybody it was not intended for. ICANN as such is involved in establishing the rules and policies to guard this DNS system.

Finally, ICANN functions as the parameters and protocol registry. These parameter settings for computers and networks are drafted by the Internet Engineering Task Force and published by ICANN as a public service. These parameters help to hold the Internet together, so that all devices can talk without problems.

Of course ICANN is also involved in the debates surrounding its mission to guard traffic and routing on the web. As such it has committees that deal with privacy, law enforcement, security (such as a secure DNS for instance). However it is not a driver of these debates.

Rod thanked Europe, the EU institutions and the MEPs involved for being such an innovator in driving Internet standards and praised the European Parliament for its Internet Governance Resolution.


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