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  • Writer's pictureLARUS Foundation

What is ICANN's Role in Controlling the Internet?

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, connecting people and businesses across the globe. Behind the scenes, there are organizations responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and ensuring the smooth operation of the Internet. One of these organizations is ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.


In a previous article, we explained what ICANN is along with it's roles and responsibilities. However, in this article, we will explore ICANN's crucial role in shapes/controls the Internet, examining its functions, responsibilities, and impact on the digital landscape. So how does ICANN control the internet?


1.0 Through Policy Development

One common and essential aspect of ICANN's role is policy development. It facilitates the development and implementation of policies related to domain names, IP addresses, and other Internet identifiers.


These policies cover a wide array of topics, including domain registration requirements, dispute resolution mechanisms, and the introduction of new TLDs. ICANN follows a bottom-up, consensus-driven approach, where stakeholders from various sectors participate in policy-making processes.


This inclusive approach ensures that decisions are made collectively, taking into account the diverse perspectives and interests of the global Internet community.


ICANN's policy development processes were created to be open and transparent, allowing for public input and feedback. This transparency helps to build trust and accountability in the organization's decision-making. It also allows for the continuous evolution of policies to adapt to the changing needs and challenges of the Internet ecosystem.


2.0 Global Internet Coordination

ICANN plays a vital role in the global coordination of the Internet's unique identifiers. ICANN is committed to a multi-stakeholder model of governance; meaning they collaborate with other organizations, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).


This collaboration is to ensure compatibility and interoperability of Internet protocols and standards. ICANN's distinctive features is its commitment to a multi-stakeholder model of governance. This model invites input from various entities, including governments, the private sector, civil society, and the technical community, ensuring that decisions are made collaboratively and reflect the diverse interests of the global Internet community.


ICANN's role in Internet governance is not about "controlling the Internet" but rather about facilitating coordination and collaboration among various stakeholders. Its multi-stakeholder model ensures that decisions are made collectively and inclusively, taking into account the perspectives and interests of different sectors and regions.


Through global internet coordination, ICANN acts as a bridge between nations and cultures, fostering an inclusive environment where policies are developed collectively.


3.0 Internet Security and Stability

Controlling the Internet also entails safeguarding its security and stability, a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of ICANN. The organization manages the WHOIS database, a repository of information about domain name registrants. This database plays a crucial role in tracking and mitigating online abuses, contributing to the overall security of the Internet.


Moreover, ICANN actively collaborates with other entities to address cybersecurity challenges and threats to the Internet's infrastructure. By promoting best practices and standards, ICANN contributes to creating a resilient and secure digital environment for users worldwide.


But if ICANN Controls the Internet, Who Controls ICANN?

While ICANN plays a pivotal role in controlling the Internet, there have been many criticisms levied against the non-profit organization. Suffice to say, ICANN has not without its share of challenges and criticisms.


Many within the internet community have argued that the organization's decision-making processes lacks transparency, and concerns have been raised about the influence of powerful stakeholders in shaping Internet policies.


Many have also highlighted the need for continuous improvement in areas such as accountability and inclusivity. ICANN recognizes these challenges and actively works to address them through initiatives aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability, and stakeholder engagement.

4.0 Conclusion: Empowering the Global Internet Community

In conclusion, ICANN's role in controlling the Internet should not be about exerting control but rather about coordinating and overseeing critical aspects of Internet governance. However, one thing is true, ICANN is very important. Through its functions in domain name management, IP address allocation, policy development, etc, ICANN plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability, security, and openness of the Internet.


So as we navigate the ever-changing dynamic digital landscape, ICANN stands as a central figure in steering the Internet toward a future that is secure, accessible, and responsive to the needs of users worldwide.


ICANN must hold fast to Its multi-stakeholder approach to ensure that decisions are made collectively, reflecting the diverse interests and perspectives of the global Internet community.

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