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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in 1998 by the United States Department of Commerce to oversee a number of internet-related tasks. One of its core duties is to manage the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA), which allocates IP addresses to various regional asigning bodies.
ICANN occupies a unique role in that it manages a global public resource (the internet’s domain name addressing space), but it shares this responsibility between businesses, governments, and civil society participants from many nations.
It represents a unique blend of “multi-stakeholderism” governance: the different parties that will be impacted participate in the decision-making process, and policies are determined based on consensus.
This paper investigates ICANN’s processes, the role of civil society within decision-making, and highlights lessons learned from this multi-stakeholderism experiment as well as reccomendations for future similar initiatives.