The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN, /ˈaɪkæn/ EYE-kan) is a nonprofit private organization headquartered in Los Angeles, California, United States, that was created on September 18, 1998, and incorporated on September 30, 1998 to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the U.S. government by other organizations, notably the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which ICANN now operates.
ICANN is responsible for the coordination of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers and, in particular, ensuring its stable and secure operation. This work includes coordination of the Internet Protocol address spaces (IPv4 and IPv6) and assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries, for maintaining registries of Internet protocol identifiers, and for the management of the top-level domain name space (DNS root zone), which includes the operation of root nameservers. Most visibly, much of its work has concerned the DNS policy development for internationalization of the DNS system and introduction of new generic top-level domains (TLDs). The actual technical maintenance work of maintenance of the central Internet address pools and DNS root registries ICANN performs pursuant to the "IANA function" contract.
ICANN's primary principles of operation have been described as helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet; to promote competition; to achieve broad representation of the global Internet community; and to develop policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.
On September 29, 2006, ICANN signed a new agreement with the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) that moves the private organization towards full management of the Internet's system of centrally coordinated identifiers through the multi-stakeholder model of consultation that ICANN represents.