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Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

Founded 1988 (1988)
Founder U.S. government
Focus Manage DNS root zones
Key people
Elise Gerich
Website .org.ianawww

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN, a nonprofit private American corporation that oversees global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and numbers.[1][2]

Prior to the establishment of ICANN primarily for this purpose in 1998, IANA was administered principally by Jon Postel at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California (USC) situated at Marina Del Rey (Los Angeles), under a contract USC/ISI had with the United States Department of Defense, until ICANN was created to assume the responsibility under a United States Department of Commerce contract.


  • Responsibilities 1
    • IP addresses 1.1
    • Domain names 1.2
    • Protocol parameters 1.3
    • Time zone database 1.4
  • History 2
  • Oversight 3
  • Managers 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


IANA is broadly responsible for the allocation of globally unique names and numbers that are used in Internet protocols that are published as Request for Comments documents. These documents describe methods, behaviors, research, or innovations applicable to the working of the Internet and Internet-connected systems. IANA maintains a close liaison with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and RFC Editorial team in fulfilling this function.

In the case of the two major Internet namespaces, namely IP addresses and domain names, extra administrative policy and delegation to subordinate administrations is required because of the multi-layered distributed use of these resources.

IP addresses

IANA delegates allocations of IP address blocks to Number Resource Organization formed as a body to represent their collective interests and ensure that policy statements are coordinated globally.

The RIRs divide their allocated CIDR system, IANA has typically allocated address space in the size of /8 prefix blocks for IPv4 and /23 to /12 prefix blocks from the 2000::/3 IPv6 block to requesting regional registries as needed. Since the exhaustion of the Internet Protocol Version 4 address space, no more /8 blocks are being allocated by IANA.

Domain names

IANA administers the data in the root nameservers, which form the top of the hierarchical Domain name system (DNS) tree.[3] This task involves liaising with top-level domain operators, the root nameserver operators, and ICANN's policy making apparatus.[4]

IANA operates the arpa zone for Internet infrastructure purposes, including reverse DNS service, and other critical zones such as root-servers.

Protocol parameters

IANA administers many parameters of IETF protocols. Examples include the names of uniform resource identifier (URI) schemes and character encodings recommended for use on the Internet. This task is performed under the oversight of the Internet Architecture Board and the agreement governing the work is published in RFC 2860.

Time zone database

The IANA time zone database holds the time zone differences and rules for the various regions of the world and allows this information to be mirrored and used by computers and other electronic devices to maintain proper configuration for timekeeping.

IANA assumed responsibility for the database on October 16, 2011, after the Astrolabe, Inc. v. Olson et al.[5] decision caused the shutdown of the FTP server which had previously been the primary source of the database.[6][7]


IANA was established informally as a reference to various technical functions for the ARPANET, that Jon Postel and Joyce K. Reynolds performed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute.

On March 26, 1972, Vint Cerf and Jon Postel at UCLA called for establishing a socket number catalog in RFC 322. Network administrators were asked to submit a note or place a phone call, "describing the function and socket numbers of network service programs at each HOST".[8] This catalog was subsequently published as RFC 433 in December 1972.[9] In it Postel first proposed a registry of assignments of port numbers to network services, calling himself the czar of socket numbers.[10]

The first reference to the name "IANA" in the RFC series is in RFC 1060, published in 1990 by Postel and Reynolds at USC-ISI, but the function, and the term, was well established long before that; RFC 1174 says that "Throughout its entire history, the Internet system has employed a central Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)...", and RFC 1060 lists a long series of earlier editions of itself, starting with RFC 349.[11]

In 1995, the National Science Foundation authorized Network Solutions to assess domain name registrants a $50 fee per year for the first two years, 30 percent of which was to be deposited in the Intellectual Infrastructure Fund (IIF), a fund to be used for the preservation and enhancement of the intellectual infrastructure of the Internet.[12] There was widespread dissatisfaction with this concentration of power (and money) in one company, and people looked to IANA for a solution. Postel wrote up a draft[13] on IANA and the creation of new top level domains. He was trying to institutionalize IANA. In retrospect, this would have been valuable, since he unexpectedly died about two years later.

In January 1998, Postel was threatened by US Presidential science advisor Ira Magaziner with the statement "You'll never work on the Internet again" after Postel collaborated with root server operators to test using a root server other than Network Solutions' "A" root to act as the authority over the root zone. Demonstrating that control of the root was from the IANA rather than from Network Solutions would have clarified IANA's authority to create new top-level domains as a step to resolving the DNS Wars, but he ended his effort after Magaziner's threat, and died not long after.[14][15]

Jon Postel managed the IANA function from its inception on the ARPANET until his death in October 1998. By his almost 30 years of "selfless service",[16] Postel created his de facto authority to manage key parts of the Internet infrastructure. After his death, Joyce K. Reynolds, who had worked with him for many years, managed the transition of the IANA function to ICANN.

Starting in 1988, IANA was funded by the U.S. government under a contract between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Information Sciences Institute. This contract expired in April 1997, but was extended to preserve IANA.

On December 24, 1998, USC entered into a transition agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ICANN, transferring the IANA project to ICANN, effective January 1, 1999, thus making IANA an operating unit of ICANN.[17]

In June 1999, at its Oslo meeting, IETF signed an agreement with ICANN concerning the tasks that IANA would perform for the IETF; this is published as RFC 2860.

On February 8, 2000, the Department of Commerce entered into an agreement with ICANN for ICANN to perform the IANA functions.[18]

On 7 October 2013 the NSA surveillance scandal. The statement was signed by the heads of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society, and the five regional Internet address registries (African Network Information Center, American Registry for Internet Numbers, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry, and Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre).[19][20][21]

In October 2013, Fadi Chehadé, current President and CEO of ICANN, met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia. Upon Chehadé's invitation, the two announced that Brazil would host an international summit on Internet governance in April 2014.[22] The announcement came after the [21][25][26]

In April 2014 the NetMundial Initiative, a plan for international governance of the Internet, was proposed at the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (GMMFIG) conference (23–24 April 2014)[27][28][29] and later developed into the NetMundial Initiative by ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade along with representatives of the World Economic Forum (WEF)[30] and the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (Comitê Gestor da Internet no Brasil), commonly referred to as "".[31]

The meeting produced a nonbinding statement in favor of consensus-based decision-making. It reflected a compromise and did not harshly condemn mass surveillance or include the words "net neutrality", despite initial support for that from Brazil. The final resolution says ICANN should be under international control by September 2015.[32] A minority of governments, including Russia, China, Iran and India, were unhappy with the final resolution and wanted multi-lateral management for the Internet, rather than broader multi-stakeholder management.[33]

A month later, the Panel On Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms (convened by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) with assistance from The Annenberg Foundation), supported and included the NetMundial statement in its own report.[34]


IANA is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) under contract with the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) and pursuant to an agreement with the IETF.[2] The Department of Commerce also provides an ongoing oversight function, whereby it verifies additions and changes made in the DNS root zone to ensure IANA complies with its policies. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB), on behalf of the IETF, may terminate the agreement under which ICANN performs IANA functions with six months notice.

On January 28, 2003, the Department of Commerce, via the Acquisition and Grants Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, issued a notice of intent to extend the IANA contract for three years. In August 2006, the U.S. Department of Commerce extended the IANA contract with ICANN by an additional five years, subject to annual renewals.[35]

Since ICANN is managing a worldwide resource, while the IANA function is contracted to ICANN by the US Department of Commerce, various proposals have been brought forward to decouple the IANA function from ICANN.

On October 1, 2009 the U.S. Department of Commerce ceased its control of ICANN.[36]

On March 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to a global multi-stakeholder community.[37][38]


See also


  1. ^ "About IANA - Introduction to IANA". Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b B. Carpenter, F. Baker, M. Roberts (June 2000). MoU Between IETF and ICANN concerning IANA.  
  3. ^ DeNardis, Laura (2014). The Global War for Internet Governance. Yale University Press. p. 49.  
  4. ^ Mueller, Milton (2002). Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace. MIT Press.  
  5. ^ "Astrolabe, Inc. v. Olson et al". 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  6. ^ "ICANN rescues time zone database". 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  7. ^ "IANA - Time Zone Database". 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  8. ^ V. Cerf, J. Postel (26 March 1972). Well Known Socket Numbers.  
  9. ^ Jon Postel, Nancy Neigus (22 December 1972). Socket Number List.  
  10. ^ J. Postel (30 May 1972). Proposed Standard Socket Numbers.  
  11. ^ J. Postel, J. Reynolds (March 1990). Assigned Numbers.  
  12. ^ "NTIA DNS Statement of Policy". June 1998. 
  13. ^ J. Postel (June 1996). New Registries and the Delegation of International Top Level Domains.  
  14. ^ Damien Cave (July 2, 2002). "It's time for ICANN to go". 
  15. ^ Dave Farber (July 2, 2002). "a comment on Gilmore: ICANN Must Go (good insights)". Interesting-people mailing list. 
  16. ^ V. Cerf (October 1998). I Remember IANA.  
  17. ^ "USC ICANN Transition Agreement". ICANN. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "IANA Functions Contract" (PDF). Dept of Commerce/NTIA. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation, ICANN, 7 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  20. ^ "Brazil's anti-NSA prez urged to SNATCH keys to the internet from America", Rik Myslewski, The Register, 11 October 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  21. ^ a b Milton Mueller (2013-11-19). "Booting up Brazil". IGP Blog. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  22. ^ "Entrevista com Fadi Chehadé: Brasil sediará encontro mundial de governança da internet em 2014", Palácio do Planalto, 9 October 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Brazil to host global internet summit in ongoing fight against NSA surveillance", RT News, 10 October 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  24. ^ "Chair's Summary", Eighth Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Bali, Indonesia, 22–25 October 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  25. ^ "CENTR: Internet Governance in 2013 and What's Coming Up in 2014". CircleID. 2014-01-27. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  26. ^ Paul Wilson (2013-11-29). "What Is "1net" to Me". CircleID blog. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  27. ^ "NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement Concludes Act One of 2014 Internet Governance Trifecta". CircleID. 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  28. ^ "ICANN Releases Roadmap, Timeline for Future Management of Internet". PC Tech Magazine. 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  29. ^ "Future of the internet debated at NetMundial in Brazil". BBC News. 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  30. ^ "NETmundial Initiative - Debrief with Founding Partners". Retrieved 2014-09-02. 
  31. ^ "Public Declaration on the NETmundial Initiative issued by members of the board of". Retrieved 2014-09-02. 
  32. ^ "At NETmundial, the U.S. Kept Its Companies on the Global Stage". Businessweek. 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  33. ^ "The future of the internet". Business Standard. 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  34. ^ "Towards a Collaborative, Decentralized Internet Governance Ecosystem - report by the Panel On Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms". 2014-05-20. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  35. ^ ICANN awarded net administration until 2011 by The Register
  36. ^ US Government finally lets ICANN go by ZDNet
  37. ^ "NTIA Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions". United States Department of Commerce. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  38. ^ "U.S. Plans to Give Up Oversight of Web Domain Manager". Wall Street Journal. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 

External links

  • IANA website
  • IANA MIME media types list
  • IANA character sets
  • Numbers Resource Organization
  • USC/ICANN transition agreement
  • IANA Functions Purchase Order of the United States Department of Commerce
  • ICANN contract for IANA, March 2003
  • Launching the DNS War: Dot-Com Privatization and the Rise of Global Internet Governance by Craig Simon. Ph.D. dissertation containing an extensive history of events which sparked the so-called "dns war".
  • IANA List of Registrars
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