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Historic Singapore Meeting Concludes After Significant Advances to Internet's Naming System | Board Names Veteran Internet Innovator as New Chair

Singapore -- ICANN today wrapped up one of its most historic meetings after approving a plan on 20 June to usher in a vast change in the Internet's Domain Name System.
 
"ICANN's achievements in Singapore have made history," said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer. "After years of discussion, debate and deliberation with many different communities -- including business groups, cultural organizations and governments -- we have opened the door to an era of creative innovation unlike any other since the Internet's inception."

During the meeting, ICANN approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet address endings, called generic top-level domains (gTLDs), from the current 22, which include such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net. Applications are expected to be accepted beginning on January 12, 2012. 

The Board of Directors also elected a new leader. It named Steve Crocker, an Internet pioneer, as Chair of the Board. Dr. Crocker has been involved with ICANN since 2002, serving as chair of its Security, Stability, and Advisory Committee (SSAC) until 2010. He was the SSAC liaison to the Board from 2003 to 2008, a voting member of the Board since 2008, and vice-chair of the Board since December 2010.

 "With the approval of the new gTLD process, we also facilitated the global expansion of Internet users by allowing the use of any language script, such as Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese, as a top-level domain."

Crocker succeeds Peter Dengate Thrush, who was Chair since 2007.

Board member Bruce Tonkin, an Australian, was named Vice Chair. He is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for Melbourne IT Limited.

Two new Board members were seated: Chris Disspain, Chief Executive Officer of Australia's .au Internet registry, and Bill Graham, former head of the Internet Society's strategic global engagement activities. They replace outgoing Board members Thrush and Rita Rodin Johnston.

Other achievements in Singapore include:

  • The launch of a global communications period to raise awareness of new generic top-level domains; this will include outreach to developing countries.
  • Acceptance of 26 out of 27 recommendations from the Accountability and Transparency Review Team that reinforce ICANN's commitment to openness and responsiveness, and progress forward with work on the remaining issue, which requires independent external review.
  • Approved a new .NET registry agreement with VeriSign, Inc., for another six years.

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Domain Name System
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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."