If you’ve ever wondered what, or who, manages the roughly 2 billion URLs that exist in the world, the answer is, well, a little complicated. Until 2016, it was the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which was stewarded by the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration), after which it was incorporated under PTI (Public Technical Identifiers, which is part of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Yikes. How about we work our way backwards.

ICANN is a non-profit, internationally organized corporation that is responsible for allocating space for IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, assigning protocol identifiers, and managing the Domain Name System (DNS) and root server system. The IANA performed the same duties, but did so under a contract with the NTIA, a U.S. Goverment agency. For almost 20 years, the U.S. government had wanted to get out of the DNS management business, so it worked with the global Internet community to do just that. They didn’t want to be the sole provider of Internet governance. That’s a lot of responsibility, with little recognition or pats on the back. The transition finally took place in 2016 when the IANA turned it over to ICANN.

ICANN, as did IANA, has 3 primary duties. It manages:

  • Domain Names, or DNS root
  • Number Resources by coordinating the global pool of IP addresses
  • Protocol Assignments, which refers to the numbering systems that are managed by standards bodies.