The Formation of ICANN

The United States government historically held control over the root server beginning with the creation of the Internet in the 1960s as a defense department project. The government worked with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which was led by the late Jon Postel, to manage databases and ensure that domain names could be located by corresponding servers. In 1992, the U.S. government contracted Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) to assume control over the administrative functions of the DNS and manage the “.com,” “.org,” and “.net” TLDs.

In 1996 the engineering community organized the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) to determine a structure for adding new TLDs and licensing new organizations to register domain names. In 1997, the IAHC and other supporting groups devised and ratified a proposal, called the generic Top Level Domains Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU). The gTLD-MoU recommended that 7 new TLDs be established and that the “.com,” “.org,” and “.net” TLDs be designated as globally shared resources, all under the management of a non-profit corporation based in Geneva. The gTLD-MoU ultimately failed, but the challenges and controversy remained.

As opinions in the global community divided over the structure of Internet governance, the U.S. government decided to launch a new initiative for reform, led by Ira Magaziner. Magaziner’s group presented a proposal called the Green Paper, which called for the creation of five new proprietary TLDs while allowing NSI to retain control over the “.com,” “.org,” and “.net”domains. After soliciting comments from stakeholders throughout the world, the Magaziner group revised its plan and presented the White Paper, which proposes the establishment of a private, non-profit corporation to assume responsibility for the Domain Name System.

In October 1998, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved the creation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and began to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the new corporation.

For additional information on ICANN, see: