ICANN turns ten
The founding document of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was signed on 30 September 1998. So this non-profit Californian organisation is now celebrating its tenth birthday. ICANN looks after the administration of generic top level domains (gTLD), coordinates the internet's domain name system (DNS) and the DNS root servers and registers IP addresses. Jointly with the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), ICANN also governs port addresses and parameters for the internet protocols.
At the first meeting of the organization, in New York in October 1998, Michael Roberts was elected as interim president and CEO, and Esther Dyson was appointed to be chairperson. Another two chairpersons and CEOs and dozens of board and committee members joined later. ICANN says that in the last ten years, a total of 153 official board sessions and 32 public meetings have been held.
"Ten years ago, there were 100 million people that used the Internet. Its inventors originally thought the network would only ever have to cater for one million users," said the present ICANN Chairman, Peter Dengate Thrush. There were now already 1.5 billion people online, he added. ICANN's CEO and President, Paul Twomey, reckons that his organization is today a genuinely international one. "We have offices in Los Angeles, Brussels and Washington, as well as presences in a number of other countries. Board and Committee members come from every corner of the planet and the ICANN community is as diverse as the Internet itself."
There was just one registrar in 1998, charging $50 a year for an internet domain. There are now 900, says ICANN, and their annual charge for a domain starts at $6. Over the last decade, the number of registered domain names has grown from three million in 1998 to 160 million. The three generic top-level domains initially maintained by ICANN (.com, .org, .net) have been joined by a further 13. ICANN says it has also developed a cheap, efficient method for settling disputes over the ownership of domain names, the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process.