Understanding ICANN's Complexity in a Growing and Changing Internet

32 Pages Posted: 1 May 2014 Last revised: 18 Jul 2015

See all articles by Cecilia Testart

Cecilia Testart

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: April 15, 2014


Historically, the primary governance of the Internet has been in the hands of the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit corporation appointed by the US government to develop policy for and manage the critical resources of the Internet: Internet Protocol addresses, Domain Names System and parameter numbers. However, because of the immense global influence of the Internet, other national governments and international organizations are seeking to rapidly become involved in this policy-development sphere. In this particularly decisive moment of the Internet, there is a need to understand the structure and processes of ICANN before any further change. This paper studies who participates in ICANN’s decision-making and policy-development processes and how. It first examines in detail the internal structure of the organization, and then its structural and financial evolution since its inception. The study is an in-depth analysis of legal, financial and public documents of ICANN, as well as the information published directly by ICANN’s internal bodies. Although other works have studied specific internal bodies of ICANN, this is the first comprehensive examination of ICANN using ICANN’s founding documents as starting point. The paper reveals the substantial expansion in scale and scope of ICANN’s initial technical mandate. ICANN’s recurring changes allowed it to adapt to growth, evolution and change in the Internet However, the permanent restructuring hinders follow-up by external interested parties that are now requesting more involvement in the policy-development processes.

Keywords: ICANN, Internet governance, Domain Name System, International Relations

JEL Classification: O19

Suggested Citation

Testart, Cecilia, Understanding ICANN's Complexity in a Growing and Changing Internet (April 15, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2431571 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2431571

Cecilia Testart (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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