in full Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbersnonprofit private organization incorporated in California on Sept. 18, 1998, and tasked with taking over from the U.S. government various administrative duties associated with running the Internet. ICANN's functions include overseeing the top-level domains (e.g., .com, .net, .org, .edu, .us), registering and maintaining the directory of domain names (e.g., www.britannica.com) used in the Internet protocol (IP), and resolving trademark disputes over domain names.In the 1990s the exclusive right to use Internet domain names became a highly contested issue. Domain name labels enable “packets” of information transmitted over the Internet to be delivered to their intended destinations using the transmission control protocol (TCP); the whole system of transmission and addressing is known as TCP/IP. The mnemonic character of domain names also assists consumers in locating Internet-based businesses. As commercial activity on the Internet grew, evocative domain names became increasingly valuable, and struggles over them multiplied, especially as a result of the activities of so-called “cybersquatters,” who registered popular domain names with the aim of ransoming them to businesses at huge profits.On taking over administration of the Internet, ICANN promulgated a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy to resolve domain name controversies. ICANN also licensed several arbitration services to interpret and enforce it, with the assistance of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The first cases under ICANN's dispute resolution policy, including those brought by the World Wrestling Federation and American actress Julia Roberts (Roberts, Julia), were settled in 2000.In 1999 the United States established a similar national system, administered by the federal courts, under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Under this law, individuals can be fined up to $100,000 for registering a domain name in “bad faith.” Defenders of the law contended that it was crucial to protect the commercial value of trademarks and to shield businesses from extortion. Critics argued that the legislation was too broad and could be used by companies to suppress consumer complaints, parody, and other forms of free speech.In 2000 ICANN's board of directors, after debating a list of close to 200 new top-level domain names submitted by numerous organizations, voted in favour of adding seven new suffixes: .aero (for aviation sites), .biz (businesses), .coop (cooperatives), .info (general information), .museum (museums), .name (individuals), and .pro (professionals, such as doctors). With the exception of the .info domain, few sites have registered in the new domains.
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