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IDN Variant Issues Project: Draft Integrated Issues Report

Comment Period Deadlines (*) Important Information Links
Public Comment Box
Open Date: 23 December 2011 To Submit Your Comments (Forum Closed)
Close Date: 30 January 2012 Time (UTC): 23:59 View Comments Submitted
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

On 20 April 2011, ICANN announced the IDN Variant Issues Project to explore the benefits and risks associated with the potential inclusion of IDN variant TLDs in the DNS root zone. This project was initiated in response to a 2010 ICANN Board of Directors resolution.

ICANN is publishing today for public comment the draft Integrated Issues Report [PDF, 1.1 MB], a study of the issues that this project has identified in relation to the management of IDN variant TLDs. It represents the result of the completion of the second phase of the project.

The first phase involved the formation of six case study teams for the Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Greek and Latin scripts. These teams were comprised of community experts with support by ICANN and worked on identifying issues related to IDN variant TLDs for each particular script, resulting in the publication in October of six individual reports detailing their findings.

The second phase focused on integrating those six case study reports into the Integrated Issues Report. To complete this phase, ICANN formed a coordination team comprised of experts from each of the case study teams. The coordination team advised ICANN in completing the Integrated Issues Report, which summarizes and categorizes the various issues related to the identification and management of IDN variant TLDs.

ICANN is now seeking community input on the issues discussed in this draft report. The report will be updated to reflect community feedback and the final Integrated Issues Report will be presented to the ICANN Board of Directors during their meeting at the ICANN public meeting in Costa Rica in March 2012.

Following publication of the final Integrated Issues Report, ICANN will facilitate work toward determining the conditions under which certain types of variant TLDs could be implemented.  Future work may also involve developing tools, processes, and protocols to support specific solutions, in cooperation with the appropriate experts.  For the purpose of arriving at a determination on whether variant TLDs can be delegated, it is expected that the required work can be completed in calendar year 2012.
Section II: Background

On 25 September 2010 the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) directed the CEO "to develop an issues report identifying what needs to be done with the evaluation, possible delegation, allocation and operation of gTLDs containing variant characters IDNs as part of the new gTLD process in order to facilitate the development of workable approaches to the deployment of gTLDs containing variant characters IDNs." (

In response, ICANN conducted six case studies of individual scripts to investigate any issues associated with delegating and using IDN variant TLDs that need to be resolved to facilitate a good user experience.

The next phase focused on integrating those six case study reports into the draft Integrated Issues Report, which is being posted here for public comment.

Section III: Document and Resource Links

Documents posted for comment

Additional Resources

Section IV: Additional Information
Staff Contact: Kurt Pritz Email:

(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.

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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"""" is not an IDN."