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Work Efforts

The GAC regularly considers a broad range of public policy issues impacting the DNS and other matters regarding the functions of ICANN. This work can result in consensus advice for the ICANN Board or public comment guidance to the ICANN community. This part of the website shares information related to those ongoing topics and activities.

Accountability & Transparency

ICANN has a proven commitment to accountability and transparency in all of its practices. Indeed, ICANN considers these principles to be fundamental safeguards in ensuring that its international, bottom-up and multi-stakeholder operating model remains effective.

The mechanisms through which ICANN archives accountability and transparency are built into every level of its organization and are mandated in its new Bylaws.

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Contracts & Agreements

Many of the policies and operations of the internet are captured in formal contracts and agreements with our Registry and Registrar operators. These documents are drafted publicly and undergo public comment periods to achieve consensus.

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Domain Names

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Formal ICANN Structures

ICANN is a multi-stakeholder organization comprised of other Advisory Committees like the GAC and a collection of Supporting Organizations that contribute to its mission.

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GAC Activities

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gTLD Programs

Most TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs". They can be subdivided into two types, "sponsored" TLDs (sTLDs) and "unsponsored TLDs (uTLDs), as described in more detail below.

In the 1980s, seven gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created. Domain names may be registered in three of these (.com, .net, and .org) without restriction; the other four have limited purposes.

Over the next twelve years, various discussions occurred concerning additional gTLDs, leading to the selection in November 2000 of seven new TLDs for introduction. These were introduced in 2001 and 2002. Four of the new TLDs (.biz, .info, .name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three new TLDs (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored.

Generally speaking, an unsponsored TLD operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process, while a sponsored TLD is a specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD. The sponsor thus carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the TLD.

A Sponsor is an organization to which is delegated some defined ongoing policy-formulation authority regarding the manner in which a particular sponsored TLD is operated. The sponsored TLD has a Charter, which defines the purpose for which the sponsored TLD has been created and will be operated. The Sponsor is responsible for developing policies on the delegated topics so that the TLD is operated for the benefit of a defined group of stakeholders, known as the Sponsored TLD Community, that are most directly interested in the operation of the TLD. The Sponsor also is responsible for selecting the registry operator and to varying degrees for establishing the roles played by registrars and their relationship with the registry operator. The Sponsor must exercise its delegated authority according to fairness standards and in a manner that is representative of the Sponsored TLD Community.

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ICANN Governance

Internet Governance Ecosystem — Internet Governance Ecosystem
An interconnected system characterized by a web of relationships among the many institutions, organizations and communities that have roles affecting the operation and use of the Internet. These relationships reflect and recognize responsibilities, roles and dependencies among the various players.

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ICANN Meetings

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Other ICANN Stakeholders

There are many organizations outside of the ICANN multi-stakeholder structure that contribute to the policies, governance and functioning of the internet. The GAC and other ICANN constituents frequently collaborate and liaise with these organizations to execute its mission.

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Policy Development

A set of formal steps, as defined in the ICANN bylaws, guide the initiation, internal and external review, timing and approval of policies needed to coordinate the global Internet's system of unique identifiers.

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Public Interest

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Rights Protections Mechanisms

As part of the gTLD application process, an objection procedure was established to protect various rights and interests, including the Legal Rights Objection (LRO) process to provide for protection of legal rights at the top level. This dispute resolution procedure was used to determine whether an applicant’s potential use of the applied-for new gTLD would cause infringement of the objector’s existing trademark.

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In ICANN's Security, Stability and Resiliency Framework, "security" means the capacity to protect and prevent misuse of Internet unique identifiers.

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WHOIS (pronounced "who is"; not an acronym) An Internet protocol that is used to query databases to obtain information about the registration of a domain name (or IP address). The WHOIS protocol was originally specified in RFC 954, published in 1985. The current specification is documented in RFC 3912. ICANN'sgTLD agreements require registries and registrars to offer an interactive web page and a port 43 WHOISservice providing free public access to data on registered names. Such data is commonly referred to as "WHOIS data," and includes elements such as the domain registration creation and expiration dates, nameservers, and contact information for the registrant and designated administrative and technical contacts.WHOIS services are typically used to identify domain holders for business purposes and to identify parties who are able to correct technical problems associated with the registered domain.

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