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ICANN Temporarily Stopped from Delegating .AFRICA Pending Federal Court Hearing on 4 April 2016

The Court in the DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA) v. ICANN matter granted DCA's request for an emergency order (aka Temporary Restraining Order or TRO).

The order issued by a United States Federal District Court located in Los Angeles directed ICANN to not "issue" the .AFRICA top level domain until following a ruling on the hearing to be held on the matter on 4 April 2016.

DCA has asked the Court to order ICANN not to delegate .AFRICA until its lawsuit is resolved in its entirety. In doing so, DCA asked for an emergency order to stop ICANN for a short period of time until the Court could fully evaluate whether stopping the delegation of .AFRICA during the pendency of the lawsuit is appropriate.

DCA has already presented its facts in writing to the Court, and ICANN will do so on 14 March 2016. The parties will present oral arguments to the Court on 4 April 2016, after which the Court will make a decision about whether or not ICANN can proceed to delegation, even though the lawsuit is still proceeding.

In its temporary order, the Court did not make a ruling as to the "merits" of DCA's claims but ruled specifically on the "irreparable harm" standard. In taking the step of temporarily preserving the status quo, the Court considered that there is only one .AFRICA, and if ICANN delegates it to some other entity, DCA would not be able to get use of the TLD if DCA won the lawsuit. ICANN has not had the chance to present facts to show why delegation at this point is appropriate. ICANN will have that chance in the next few weeks.

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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."