Created in 1998, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a private, nonprofit entity whose official mandate is to perform the technical coordination of core Internet resources, most notably that of Internet-based domain names (e.g.,, and in particular their innovation, structuring, and assignation. Incorporated and physically headquartered in California, ICANN’s authority extends, directly or indirectly, over all users of the Internet regardless of geolocation. After briefly reviewing the history and purpose of ICAAN, this entry discusses issues and problems associated with assigning domain names and how these are addressed through governance.

History and Purpose

Prior to the formation of ICANN, administration of the authoritative root file list ultimately linking particular names and numbers (i.e., Internet Protocol addresses) to specific computers was the responsibility of ...

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