Control of Internet domain name system goes to ICANN

The United States National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) said it is ready to relinquish control of the Internet domain name system (DNS) infrastructure to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organisation.

The Internet was developed in the US as part of a military research project funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), currently known as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In 1998, the US decided to give some of the control over the DNS system to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a department of a newly formed private non-profit organisation, ICANN, based in Los Angeles.

ICANN assumed the part of the public face of the DNS system, but NTIA, which is part of the US Department of Commerce, kept a major role in the decisions being taken at ICANN and IANA.

When it decided to give some of the original control over to IANA, US officials, at the pressure of other governments, said they would eventually allow ICANN full control over the Internet domain name system. Other countries and private companies can join ICANN based on their role in the Internet infrastructure, and be part of the decisions it makes.

After 14 years, seeing that the US was dragging its feet, in 2012, several nations wanted to form a UN-managed agency and force the US to hand over control of the DNS infrastructure to it. Two years later, in 2014, the US officially announced it would be handing over the DNS system to ICANN, but not to the UN commission.

That same year, the US also asked ICANN for a detailed proposal on how to transition stewardship from NTIA.

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Last week, the NTIA approved that transition plan, and starting October 1, 2016, ICANN will be the sole organisation with a decisional role over the global DNS infrastructure.

LEADERSHIP reports that the DNS is the infrastructure translating the easy-to-remember domains such as “” into an IP address of the server where the actual website was stored. The DNS is one of the internet’s most important components.

ICANN, working with the multi-stakeholder community, confirms that all required IANA functions stewardship transition tasks specified in NTIA’s June 9, 2016 letter are complete, and all other tasks in support of the IANA stewardship transition are either in a final review stage or awaiting approval, which will be complete in advance of September 30, 2016 to allow the IANA functions contract to expire.

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