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ICANN turns 20 today (or maybe not)

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2018, 11:06:17 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN is expected to celebrate its 20th anniversary at its Barcelona meeting next month, but by some measures it has already had its birthday.
If you ask Wikipedia, it asserts that ICANN was “created” on September 18, 1998, 20 years ago today.
But that claim, which has been on Wikipedia since 2003, is unsourced and probably incorrect.
While it’s been repeated elsewhere online for the last 15 years, I’ve been unable to figure out why September 18 has any significance to ICANN’s formation.
I think it’s probably the wrong date.
It seems that September 16, 1998 was the day that IANA’s Jon Postel and Network Solutions jointly published the organization’s original bylaws and articles of incorporation, and first unveiled the name “ICANN”.
That’s according to my former colleague and spiritual predecessor Nick Patience (probably the most obsessive journalist following DNS politics in the pre-ICANN days), writing in now-defunct Computergram International on September 17, 1998.
The Computergram headline, helpfully for the purposes of the post you are reading, is “IANA & NSI PUBLISH PLAN FOR DNS ENTITY: ICANN IS BORN”.
Back then, before the invention of the paragraph and when ALL CAPS HEADLINES were considered acceptable, Computergram was published daily, so Patience undoubtedly wrote the story September 16, the same day the ICANN proposal was published.
A joint Postel/NetSol statement on the proposal was also published September 17.
The organization was not formally incorporated until September 30, which is probably a better candidate date for ICANN’s official birthday, archived records show.
Birthday meriments are expected to commence during ICANN 63, which runs from October 20 to 25. There’s probably free booze in it, for those on-site in Barcelona.
As an aside that amused me, the Computergram article notes that Jones Day lawyer Joe Sims very kindly provided Postel with his services during ICANN’s creation on a “pro bono basis”.
Jones Day has arguably been the biggest beneficiary of ICANN cash over the intervening two decades, billing over $8.7 million in fees in ICANN’s most recently reported tax year alone.

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Comments (6)

  1. Nigel Roberts says:

    You are right. But who cares?
    ICANN was formed on 30th Sept., 1998.
    It took me less than two minutes to verify that with the State of California.
    Registration Date:
    Entity Type:

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      You could have saved yourself some time by reading the whole article.

      • NIgel Roberts says:

        You referred to archives. That info is from the live current database.
        But as I said, ‘who cares’? A few days either way makes little difference really.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          I think it’s interesting that a 15-year-old Wikipedia “fact” that has been repeated countless times across the internet may well be inaccurate. I care about that kind of thing, even if nobody else does.

  2. James says:

    So the “Green Paper” proposing the establishment of ICANN was published in Feb 1998, and the organization was stood up 7 months later in September.
    Can you imagine the modern ICANN accomplishing anything that quickly?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I think if you get a small group of people together, focused on a specific, limited task, you can create policy fairly quickl… oh, wait.

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