The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a private international organisation headquartered in Los Angeles (California, USA). It is responsible for managing and coordinating the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS).

The historic role of the USA as the ICANN regulatory authority ended on 30 September 2016. Since then, a global community representing all stakeholders has governed the management of internet addresses across the world. With the approval of more than 1,000 new domain names (including ‘.swiss’) since 2012, the role of ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) has become increasingly important.

Importance for Switzerland

Switzerland’s objectives with respect to ICANN include:

•                strengthening the technical and political stability of the Domain Name System (DNS);

•                promoting public interests over individual interests within the ICANN organisation;

•                further developing ICANN into a diverse and globally recognised organisation;

•                using ICANN as a model for other decision-making processes and dialogue involving multi-party stakeholders.

OFCOM’s role

OFCOM represents Switzerland’s values and interests on the GAC and coordinates with other relevant bodies within the Federal Administration for this purpose. It also actively participates in various ICANN working groups and processes to establish rules for developing and using domain names. In the 2014-2017 process of transitioning from regulatory oversight by the US to a global multi-party stakeholder organisation, OFCOM played an important role (webpage available in German, French and Italian) as GAC chair, leading the difficult intergovernmental negotiations and promoting these negotiations vis-à-vis the other stakeholders. OFCOM has also worked consistently since 2012 to ensure that public interests are adequately taken into account, particularly with respect to liberalising top-level domain names.

Specialist staff
Last modification 04.03.2022

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