(Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, www.iana.org) An operating unit of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that maintains the top-level domain, IP address and protocol number databases. The word “authority” means that IANA keeps authoritative records, but it has no jurisdiction over Internet activity and does not resolve address conflicts.

IANA coordinates all top-level domains such as .com and .org and country codes such as .us and .ca, which is necessary for the Internet’s root servers and naming system (see DNS. It is also a registry for the many numerical codes assigned to data types and commands in the large variety of protocols used on the Internet, including routing and email protocols, port numbers and multicast and Ethernet addresses.

IANA provides coordination of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses that the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) around the world allocate to large companies, carriers and ISPs. It also assigns autonomous system (AS) numbers that are used by various routing protocols.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority is a standards organization that oversees global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System, media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and Internet numbers

History Of IANA And Functions

Since the early 1970s, the networking protocols that define the Internet have required a list of identifiers – numbers and names – to be published. This list was originally maintained by Dr John Postel, of the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), on an informal basis and as an unwritten component of a contract with the United States’ Department of Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

It was not until 1990, with the publication of  RFC1060 that the term “Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)” was used to refer to the tasks involved in making and publishing this list.

During the 1990s, IANA evolved into assigning, managing and supervising three types of network identifiers: protocol parameters, IP addresses, and domain names. As the Internet continued to grow, the IANA functions grew more critical and it was felt that operation of these functions should be formalized in a contract.

In 1992, RFC1366 established the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) system and coordination of IANA’s numeric IP address function according to broad geographical areas. The RIPE NCC (also established in 1992) was the first RIR (serving a region that included Europe, former USSR states, the Middle East and northern Africa), joined in 1994 by APNIC (serving Members in the Asia Pacific region).

In 1996, IANA and other organizations led efforts to propose a Memorandum of Understanding to transfer the management of the Domain Name System (DNS), from one backed by the US government, to one that would be private and international.

In 1997, President Clinton’s administration named the Department of Commerce the lead US governmental agency to support efforts for the management of the DNS to become private.

After a series of public consultations, in June 1998, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the US Department of Commerce published a policy statement called Management of internet names and addresses, commonly referred as the “White Paper”. In this policy statement, the NTIA proposed to enter into an agreement with a new non-for-profit corporation to administer policy for the DNS.

In September 1998, as a response to the NTIA’s policy statement, private parties incorporated the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in California (US) as a non-for-profit public benefit corporation. Subsequently, in November 1998, the NTIA entered into a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ICANN to jointly develop the mechanisms to transfer DNS management to the private sector.

The MoU between the NTIA and ICANN ran for approximately eight years. In 2006, the efforts of the Department of Commerce and ICANN to transition the management of the DNS to the private sector, changed into a Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with a series of commitments and affirmation of responsibilities. The JPA expired in 2009 and was replaced with a long-standing Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), which recognized that the coordination of the Internet’s domain name and addressing system (DNS) is performed globally by a private sector-led organization.

In 2000, the NTIA accepted a proposal by ICANN to assume the IANA functions formerly performed by the USC under a contract with DARPA and entered into the first IANA functions contract with ICANN. The functions specified in this original contract were:

  1. Coordination of the assignment of technical protocol parameters
  2. Administrative functions associated with root management
  3. Allocation of IP address blocks
  4. Other services

IANA functions

The United States Departmentof Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) remains committed to preserving a stable and secure Internet Domain Name System (DNS). Critical to the DNS is the continued performance of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions. The IANA functions have historically included: (1) The coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters; (2) the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management; (3) the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and (4) other services related to the management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) performed the IANA functions, on behalf of the United States Government, through a contract with NTIA.

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