Commerce Department keeps ICANN as Internet overseer

The Commerce Department on Tuesday renewed its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to allow the nonprofit group to continue managing the Web's address system.

The new contract will take effect on Oct. 1 and extend ICANN's authority to oversee important Internet functions for three more years.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) had rejected ICANN's initial bid for a long-term contract in March, but approved a revised proposal.


Former ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom tweeted that signing the new contract was his last act as the group's chief executive.


Fadi Chehadé will take over as CEO on Oct. 1, the same day the new contract goes into effect.

ICANN has had a particularly high profile recently because of its plan to dramatically expand the Internet's domain name system.

Earlier this year, ICANN accepted applications for new Web addresses ending in almost any word or phrase, instead of just traditional endings like .com and .org.

The group had expected to receive about 500 applications but received more than 1,900.

Groups had to pay $185,000 to apply for each new top-level domain.

The list unveiled last month includes company names such as .apple, .gap, .ford, and .jpmorgan, as well as generic names, such as .movie, .love, .life, .auto, .news and .beer.

Many advertisers and business groups fought the expansion, arguing it will confuse consumers and force companies to defensively buy up names related to their brands. 

ICANN has also had a few slip-ups overseeing the domain expansion. The organization accidentally published the private contact information of some of the applicants, and it had to take the application system offline in April when it identified a glitch that allowed some groups to look at the confidential applications of their rivals.