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Thousands of Voices Get Direct Say At ICANN

Internet users from three of ICANN's five global regions will now have direct input to the organization thanks to the creation of three Regional At-Large Organisations (RALOs).

Memorandums of Understanding creating RALOs for Africa and Europe were signed today by ICANN and member groups of the RALOs in a special ceremony at ICANN's 28th Public Meeting in Lisbon. The third RALO — Asia-Australia-Pacific — was announced and will be formally signed at the 30th Public Meeting to be held later this year.

“This is a fantastic day for Internet users in Africa, in Europe, and in the Asia-Australia-Pacific region. The creation of RALOs gives average Internet users the chance to influence decisions that shape the security and stability of the Internet,” said Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN.

The At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) of ICANN represents Internet users in ICANN.

"ICANN deals with issues that are technical but hugely important to Internet users. At-Large is the place to be if you want to participate — and RALOs provide direct input to us," said Jacqueline Morris, ALAC Chair from Trinidad and Tobago.

The first RALO, the Latin America - Caribbean Regional At-Large Organization was created at the 27th ICANN public meeting held in São Paulo in December 2006. Today's announcement means four of ICANN's five global regions have RALOs.

The people who RALOs represent are incredibly diverse. For example, groups from Africa taking part in today include a network of journalists based in Tanzania reporting on Internet issues (JUSTA-AFRICA), and Internet Society chapters from countries as diverse as Mali, Benin, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

European user groups participating include Internet Society chapters throughout Eastern and Western Europe, a network of science and Information and Communications Technology professionals in Germany, and academic professionals.

More information on the creation of RALOs is available at

RALO Africa

African RALO Signing

RALO Africa

European RALO Signing

RALO Africa

African and European RALO Signatories With ICANN President and CEO Paul Twomey

About ICANN:

ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit responsible for coordinating Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. For more information please visit:

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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."