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Advisory: Documents Provided to Karl Auerbach

Marina del Rey, California, USA (4 August 2002) -- The litigation between ICANN and one of its Directors, Karl Auerbach, has been an unfortunate episode. While all ICANN documents and records are and have always been available for inspection by all its Directors, ICANN did not believe that Mr. Auerbach, or any other single Director, should have the unilateral right to decide, regardless of the views of the rest of ICANN's Board, which of these documents should be published and which should be kept confidential. Mr. Auerbach took the position that he had the right to make those determinations unilaterally, while ICANN took the position that its procedures could require an individual Director to present any disputes between the Board and the Director to a court.

The Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled that neither position is correct under California law. The Court ordered that ICANN cannot itself place any restrictions on a Director's right to disclose materials, but that Mr. Auerbach must give ten days notice to ICANN before any such disclosures, and that the Court will resolve any disputes ICANN presents within that ten-day period.

Last Friday, ICANN provided Mr. Auerbach with materials in electronic form that do not raise confidentiality issues. Because this was never, as some have assumed, an effort to preserve as secret information for which there is no legitimate rationale for confidentiality, ICANN has posted on its website copies of all materials provided on Friday to Mr. Auerbach:

In the coming week, ICANN will provide Mr. Auerbach with various materials involving confidentiality considerations. The parties will work to appropriately address those considerations.

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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."