ICANN is the official overseer of the day-to-day management of the Internet's domain and numbering system (DNS) and is the governing body responsible for the overall stability of the World Wide Web.
ICANN was first created by the Department of Commerce in 1998, after which ICANN's contract was renewed on a yearly basis.
The new agreement between ICANN and the Department of Commerce includes several crucial amendments designed to ensure that ICANN continues to meet its responsibilities for the technical management of the DNS.
Among those amendments is the expectation that over the coming years, ICANN will transition the oversight of the Internet's DNS away from the U.S. Government and into the private sector.
According to the Department of Commerce, despite ICANN's struggles and public opposition over the years, the governing body has made notable progress in serving the Internet's growing needs.
"The Department continues to believe that the stability and security of this important global resource can best be achieved through privatization of and global participation in the technical management of the DNS," the Department said in a statement. "The Department especially desires to see ICANN evolve into an independent, stable, and sustainable organization that is well-equipped to weather a future crisis."
Under the terms of the Memo of Understanding between the Department of Commerce and ICANN, the governing body will develop a process for selecting new Top Level Domains; implement a strategy for multi-lingual communications and international outreach; and develop a contingency plan that would serve in the event of a "severe" disruption of operations.