We’ve dipped into the alphabet soup of Internet governance meetings, and now it’s time to cover a whole new set of acronyms that you might see cropping up: ICANN acronyms.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) holds three public meetings a year, and a variety of stakeholders – Internet users, businesses, policy makers, government representatives – are meeting up in various combinations to take on pressing issues in the DNS (the Domain Name System.) The DNS translates the domain name you type into the corresponding IP address, and connects you to your desired website.

First, a little more on ICANN: ICANN is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation responsible for coordinating the technical services required for the ongoing operation of the Internet. As a private-public partnership, ICANN says it is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

So, what are some of the groups that comprise this bottom-up, consensus-based policy development process?

GNSO: The Generic Names Supporting Organization is one of the groups that helps coordinate global Internet policy at ICANN. It is responsible for creating policy applicable to generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and is comprised of four stakeholder groups (SG):

  • Commercial Stakeholder Group
    • Here you’ll find the Business Constituency (BC), Internet Service Providers (ISP Constituency), and Intellectual Property professionals (IP Constituency)
  • Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group
    • Non-Commercial users and non-profits
  • Registrars Stakeholder group
  • Registries Stakeholder group
    • Sometimes you’ll hear about the opinions of the “NTAG” – this is the New TLD Applicant Group, entities whose TLDs aren’t operational yet but who might be preparing to enter into the stakeholder group as full voting members once they operate those TLDs. In the mean time, the NTAG helps organize the voices of applicants.

You may also hear about “Advisory Committees” such as:

  • ALAC: The At-Large Advisory Committee is where you can find individual Internet users represented in the policy development process.
  • GAC: The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is an advisory committee comprised of appointed representatives of national governments, multi-national governmental organizations and treaty organizations, and distinct economies. It advises the ICANN Board on matters of concern to governments. The GAC operates as a forum for the discussion of government interests and concerns, including consumer interests. As an ICANN advisory committee, the GAC has no legal authority to act but it does report its findings and recommendations to the ICANN Board.
  • SSAC: The Security and Stability Advisory Committee advises the community on – you guessed it – the security and stability of the Internet as it pertains to technical matters of operation, registration, and administration.

There’s plenty more to ICANN, but knowing how different stakeholders group together can help give you a bigger picture of how the multistakeholder model works. For more acronyms and definitions visit beyondthedot.org – a great resource to point folks to for a reference on the world of ICANN and new gTLDs.

Josh Bourne
Alphabet Soup – The ICANN Edition

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