ICANN Becomes More Independent

    September 30, 2009

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body responsible for managing Internet domain names, has announced it will no longer be controlled by the U.S. government.

ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce signed an agreement today supporting the model of international multi-stakeholder governance of the global Internet addressing system.

ICANN was created in 1998 to manage the Internet’s addressing system such as top-level domain-names and IP address space. The group has been criticized for being too influenced by the U.S. government.

"A decade ago the US government was a catalyst for a global discussion on how to coordinate the vital resource that is the Internet’s unique identifiers," said Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN’s Chairman of the Board.

"They understood that it needed to be coordinated not controlled. That vision has been affirmed in the model of private sector leadership that ICANN represents."

The European Commission, which has called for reform of ICANN since 2005, sounded support for the latest changes.

"I welcome the US administration’s decision to adapt ICANN’s key role in internet governance to the reality of the 21st century and of a globalised world," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

"Internet users worldwide can now anticipate that ICANN’s decisions on domain names and addresses will be more independent and more accountable, taking into account everyone’s interests. External review panels will periodically evaluate ICANN’s performance. If effectively and transparently implemented, this reform can find broad acceptance among civil society, businesses and governments alike."

Under the agreement, the U.S. will join ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), a group that advises the corporation on publicly policy issues related to the Internet.