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ICANN and Domain Registrars
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is an essential part of domain registration. This article covers some history of ICANN, what ICANN's role is, and what the relationship is between ICANN and domain registrars.
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When you get on the Internet, and when you set up a Web page, you are communicating with others. Rather, your computer is communicating with other computers around the world. In order to “surf” the Internet, your computer needs to be able to interact with other computers so that you can retrieve information quickly and easily. All of this is coordinated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – or ICANN.
ICANN was formed in 1998 to coordinate the way domain names are set up and to allow humans to more easily use computers on the Internet. ICANN is an international organization, a global not-for-profit. It is a non-government organization as well. ICANN is in charge of making sure that domain names match with the IP (Internet Protocol) address assigned to your computer, and the computer (server) that your Web site is on. This way, it is easier for you. Instead of typing in a string of numbers, you type in words.
ICANN does not control content on the Internet. ICANN cannot do anything about annoying spam or control access to the Internet. These are issues that are handled by policymakers in different countries. The job of ICANN is to make sure that the Internet remains operable on global scale by coordinating the domain name system and making sure that domain names are unique and attached to a single IP address.
ICANN and domain registrars
ICANN sets the requirements for accredited domain registrars. In order to get a domain name – your address on the Web – you need to register through an approved source. You cannot simply set up your own Internet domain name without a registrar. ICANN must approve the registrar, and the registrar must fulfill certain requirements to be accredited. This is so that registrars can make sure the domain names are unique, and that there does end up being a traffic snarl on the Internet because a domain name goes to two different IP addresses. This system is set up worldwide so that someone in the United States can visit Web sites on servers based in India or other far off locations.
Resellers are also allowed in the ICANN structure. However, a reseller must act as an agent for an ICANN accredited domain registrar. Resellers either earn a commission for selling domain names on behalf of the registrar, or they earn a profit outright by buying domain names with the intent of reselling them for profit. It is important to note that resellers are not the same thing as domain name speculators. Domain name speculators buy expired domain names, or domain names that they think will be popular, and then hold onto them, parking them until they feel like they are popular enough to sell for a huge profit.
When you get a domain name through a reseller, you are usually getting access to the original registrar’s system to search for available domain names. Most registrars will help with customer service as well. Domain resellers simply help get the word out and bring more customers to the domain registrar’s site. ICANN does not directly regulate resellers. Approved registrars are required to coordinate the efforts made by resellers, and ensure that mix-ups don’t occur.
Without ICANN, the Internet would be a mess that would be unable to expand and provide the sort of global access that we are used. ICANN makes sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible when it comes to setting up shop online. It coordinates with governments around the world and with other organizations to help develop policy on naming (but not access), and is a vital part of the infrastructure of the Internet.
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