ICANN Acronyms and Terms

ICANN has hundreds of acronyms and terms, which can be confusing. We created this multilingual tool to help explain what these terms mean and facilitate your work within the ICANN community.

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ICANN Acronyms and Terms

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A system which provides online records containing identifying and contact information about registered domain names, Autonomous System Numbers, and Internet Protocol addresses. The registration data is managed by registries and registrars. For years, the WHOIS system has been based on a simple plain text-based protocol (called the WHOIS protocol), described in the RFC 3912. The Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) began replacing the WHOIS protocol in 2015.

WHOIS database

A database containing registration information about Internet resources, such as domain names or Internet Protocol (IP) numbering resources. These databases can be accessed using a variety of technologies, such as the WHOIS protocol or the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP).

WHOIS gateway

An interface for the WHOIS protocol used to access domain name registration data. See WHOIS database for more details.

WHOIS protocol

A program providing publicly available data on domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and autonomous systems numbers in a registry. The protocol is in the process of being replaced by the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP).

WHOIS server

A system that accepts queries using the WHOIS protocol.

Whole Label Evaluation Rules(WLER)

A type of Label Generation Rule that determines the validity of a label based on whether its code points appear in permissible contexts. For example, zone administrators often use WLER to prohibit the use of labels that start (or end) with certain code points.

work stream

A progression of related activities aimed at producing a specified deliverable or outcome. For example, a working group in the ICANN community might divide its work into multiple work streams, each with a distinct goal or work product.

working group

A temporary group formed by a Supporting Organization (SO) or an Advisory Committee (AC) to solve a specific problem or carry out a particular assignment. For example, during a policy development process, the Generic Names Supporting Organization Council assembles a working group to develop and refine a policy recommendation.

Working groups are composed of volunteers from the community. The formation and membership of a working group vary according to the SO’s or AC’s procedural rules. Working groups are expected to operate in accordance with ICANN’s principles of accountability and transparency. Active working groups are listed on the SO’s or AC’s website.

World Intellectual Property Organization(WIPO)

An agency of the United Nations that provides a global forum for intellectual property services, policies, and information. WIPO enables its 191 member states to collectively shape rules associated with the international registration systems for intellectual property. WIPO also provides services for resolving international commercial disputes outside the courts.

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is one of the providers approved by ICANN for resolving domain name disputes.

World Summit on the Information Society(WSIS)

A two-phase conference sponsored by the United Nations, where heads of state and other high-profile leaders met to form the principles of an Information Society that would work for all. At the Geneva summit in 2003, participants drafted guiding principles and a plan of action. When the summit reconvened in Tunis in 2005, participants focused on the questions of financing mechanisms, capacity building, and a multistakeholder model of Internet governance. One outcome of the Tunis summit was the establishment of the Internet Governance Forum.

The WSIS Forum is held annually to discuss important issues related to the Information Society.

In 2014, the WSIS+10 High-Level Event convened in Geneva to examine the progress made since the Geneva and Tunis summits, and to establish priorities for the future. One of the resulting documents was “WSIS+10 Vision for WSIS Beyond 2015,” which focused on a globally and digitally inclusive Internet. It called for initiatives to address cultural and linguistic diversity, extend Internet access to underserved regions and populations, and strengthen trust through cybersecurity.

World Wide Web Consortium(W3C)

An international industry consortium that develops protocols and guidelines to ensure the interoperability and long-term growth of the World Wide Web. The W3C is represented on ICANN’s Technical Liaison Group. This group provides the ICANN Board with authoritative information concerning the technical standards associated with ICANN’s activities.