ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the private (non-government) non-profit corporation with responsibility for IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions, the services previously performed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). (ICANN is usually pronounced EYE-can, as in "I can at least try to manage the Internet.")
Initial members of the ICANN board were chosen by the late Dr. Jonathon Postel, who headed IANA. IANA derived its authority under a contract from the U.S. government which financed the original research network, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, from which the Internet grew. The need to internationalize the governing of the Internet (among other concerns) led the U.S. government to recommend the origin of ICANN as a global, government-independent entity to manage the systems and protocols that keep the Internet going. The U.S. government is essentially turning over control of the Internet to ICANN although domain name registration performed by Network Solutions, Inc. will continue to be under U.S. government contract for a limited time.
ICANN has a board of nineteen Directors, nine At-Large Directors, nine to be nominated by Supporting Organizations, and the President/CEO (ex officio). The nine At-Large Directors of the Initial Board are serving one-year terms and will be succeeded by At-Large Directors elected by an at-large membership organization.
Since its beginning, ICANN has had to deal with controversial issues (such as what new top-level domain names should be permitted and whether alternative root server systems should be allowed).
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- Here is an official version of the U.S. government white paper on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses that recommended the formation of ICANN.