Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a California non-profit corporation created in 1998 to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the US Government. The tasks of ICANN include managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses.  ICANN operates based on a "Memorandum of Understanding" or MoU (now called Joint Project Agreement (JPA)) with the US Department of Commerce.  Although ICANN is only authorized to make decisions regarding a narrow scope of technical issues related to coordination of the Internet’s domain name system, ICANN’s mission has expanded and often creeps into general social policy issues and circumvents legitimate international legal regimes.

IP Justice participates at ICANN through the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).  The Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for non-commercial individuals and organizations in ICANN’s GNSO.  NCUC develops Internet domain name policies that protect non-commercial online activity and it participates in the selection of ICANN Board Members.  NCUC represents a wide range of groups and individuals at ICANN including academic organizations, civil liberties groups, consumer advocates, library associations, non-commercial individuals and more.

  • Both non-commercial organizations and individuals interested in protecting the rights of non-commercial users are invited and encouraged to join ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) to participate in the ICANN policy development process.  Here is more info on how and why to get involved at ICANN with NCUC.
  • IP Justice Executive Director Robin Gross is the Chair of ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC).  Mary Wong represents Asia and Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza is the Latin American representative  and William Drake is the North American Representative for NCUC on the GNSO Policy Council.

GNSO Council Luxembourg 2005

Above: Photo of (L) Norbert Klein and Robin Gross from NCUC, and Ross Rader of Registrar Constituency at July 2005 GNSO Policy Council Meeting in Luxembourg. Below: Photo of NCUC representatives with ICANN’s Liz Williams in Vancouver, November 2005.

The ICANN-wiki provides more detailed and timely information on ICANN meetings and policy issues under development. Many experts in the ICANN community contribute to Internet governance discussions at ICANN-watch.

ICANN Policy Issue: WHOIS Data Protection & Privacy IP Justice considers ICANN’s policies for the collection and management of domain name owners’ personal information to violate universally recognized freedom of expression rights. By forcing the disclosure and publication of every website owner’s name, home address, home telephone number and email address, ICANN intrudes upon the privacy rights of Internet users around the world. ICANN should respect the privacy rights of individuals and change its policies to provide for optional disclosure and to prohibit any use of the information without the subject’s explicit consent.

ICANN Policy Issue: Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) Another important issue that the GNSO Policy Council is currently addressing is the introduction of new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs). IP Justice supports the introduction of new gTLDs and is concerned about the chilling effect on freedom of expression raised by some proposals to limit new gTLDs to only those words that are not controversial, are not trademarked, and have no religious meaning. IP Justice and the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) are members of the "Keep the Core Neutral" Coalition to protect free expression and innovation in domain name policy.

ICANN Policy Issue: GNSO Improvements

On 3 February 2008, the BGC issued its final report on GNSO Improvements (summary) with key proposals to reform the organization charged with making policy recommendations for top-level domains.  (ICANN GNSO Improvements page)