ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This is a non profit corporation with offices at Marina del Rey, California. ICANN has been given the responsibility of managing the logistical aspect of internet protocol (IP) addresses and domain names. ICANN was officially founded in September 1998 and upon its creation took over the responsibilities of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA. ICANN has already renewed its agreement with the US department of Commerce last September 2006. The renewal means that it will continue performing its responsibility.
ICANN has an important responsibility because of the nature of the internet and IP addresses. Each computer in the world connects to the internet using a unique address that helps facilitate the sending of requests and the reception of information within the world wide web. Whenever a computer user enters the internet, the user’s internet service provider (ISP) assigns an IP address to that computer. All ISPs are given blocks of IP addresses that are proprietary, in other words, only they can assign these addresses.
Aside from computers having a unique IP address, all web sites also have their own unique address. Domain names are only used as a convenience to surfers because names are easier to memorize and remember than a series of numbers. It is ICANN’s responsibility to manage all of these IP addresses and coordinate everything on a global scale. That is how important ICANN’s mandate is.
Aside from IP addresses, ICANN is also tasked to create new domain hierarchies in order to meet the growing demand for more web sites.