In a remarkable celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is acknowledging a quarter-century of international cooperation in overseeing the Internet’s naming system. ICANN’s historic journey, conceived from the vision of a unified and globally accessible Internet, underscores its unwavering commitment to this objective and the profound impact it has achieved.
Established in 1998 under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, ICANN has steadfastly pursued its mission: ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems, including the Domain Name System (DNS). Its achievements have been the result of collaborative endeavors that have brought together technical experts, governments, civil society, businesses, and end users. Over the past 25 years, ICANN has led the way in technical Internet governance and policy development, ensuring the reliable technical function of the Internet. Key milestones include the creation of critical advisory committees and supporting organizations to ensure representation from governments, civil society, and technical communities, the introduction of more than 1,200 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and the expansion of its operational offices on a global scale.
Tripti Sinha, Chair of the ICANN Board of Directors, remarked, “Over the past 25 years, ICANN has been a beacon of global cooperation, staunchly advocating for one world, one Internet. At its inception, ICANN’s task was to coordinate the Internet’s unique identifier systems when there were nearly 150 million users. Today, over half of the world’s population is connected to the Internet. ICANN continues to bridge divides and connect communities, prioritizing a secure and trusted experience for end users, with a clear focus on digital inclusivity and an unwavering commitment to a stable, secure, and interoperable Internet.”
Notable milestones underscoring ICANN’s legacy include:
Global Footprint: ICANN has expanded its presence since its inaugural public meeting in Singapore in 1999, establishing offices in Brussels, Istanbul, Montevideo, and Singapore to reflect the diversity of the ICANN community.
Expansion of the DNS: The introduction of new gTLDs in 2012 marked a substantial expansion of the DNS, fostering innovation, competition, and diversification within the Internet’s address system. This broadened the domain landscape and laid the foundation for ICANN’s introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), catering to the diverse linguistic and cultural needs of the global Internet community.
Championing Universal Acceptance (UA) and Digital Inclusivity: UA’s primary objective is to enable everyone to utilize and communicate on the Internet through a domain name and email address tailored to their language, business, and cultural preferences. ICANN’s dedication to UA led to the establishment of UA Day on March 28, 2023, as an annual event aimed at raising UA awareness and promoting its adoption among key technical stakeholders worldwide.
Steering Into the Future: Seven years have passed since the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions was transferred from the U.S. Government National Telecommunications and Information Administration to the global multistakeholder community. This transition exemplifies the organization’s unwavering commitment to inclusive global governance and the internationalization of the management of crucial Internet resources.
Safeguarding Security and Stability: Initiatives such as the Domain Name System Security Extensions, introduced in 2005, and the Key Signing Key (KSK) Rollover in 2018, underscore ICANN’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the DNS.
Sally Costerton, Interim President and CEO of ICANN, emphasized, “Our legacy is not only evident in the milestones we’ve achieved but also in the communities we’ve nurtured, the standards we’ve established, and the global connections we’ve forged. While our history is marked by milestones that have shaped the Internet age, it is our future that excites me the most. As we champion initiatives promoting digital inclusivity and accessibility, our commitment remains steadfast: to maintain the Internet’s security, stability, and interoperability.”
At the heart of ICANN’s efforts are the end users. Every domain registration, Internet Protocol address, policy development, and technological advancement has aimed to create an environment where anyone, anywhere can access the wealth of information and services offered by the Internet. Our digital experiences, from connecting with loved ones worldwide to accessing critical health and financial services, engaging in online education, or launching new online ventures, are made possible solely through the stability and reliability ensured by ICANN’s mission.
As we celebrate this momentous milestone, heartfelt appreciation is extended to all stakeholders, including technical experts, the business community, civil society, academia, governments, and the global Internet community at large. Each has played an instrumental role in ICANN’s remarkable journey.