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ITEMS International Appointed to Conduct Independent Review of the At-Large Community

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") has appointed ITEMS International to conduct an independent review of the At-Large Community ("At-Large"). This review is part of ICANN's commitment to continuous improvement, accountability and transparency.

The At-Large serves an important function – representing the interests of Internet users. There are over 190 At-Large Structures (ALSes) around the world and a growing number of individual members. Whether it is an Internet-related consumer rights group, an academic organization, or a public-minded individual, At-Large share a passion for furthering the development of Information & Communications Technology (ICTs) and contributing to policies that influence the technical coordination of the Domain Name System. They ensure that the Internet contributes to serve the global public interest.

In addition to assessing the effectiveness of the improvements resulting from the previous Review conducted in 2008, the purpose of this Review is to (1) acknowledge areas that are working well, (2) identify areas that need improvement and propose needed changes, and (3) evaluate the organizational effectiveness of the At-Large Community – ALAC, Regional At-Large Organizations (RALOs) and At-Large Structures (ALSes), in accordance with the ICANN-provided objective and quantifiable criteria.

The Review is scheduled to commence immediately and will conclude in April 2017, and like reviews of other structures within ICANN, is mandated by ICANN's Bylaws.

The At-Large Review addresses the new, improved approach to conducting reviews. The At-Large will be a protagonist in this inclusive process: in keeping with ICANN's bottom-up, multistakeholder approach, this review process will incorporate a "self-review" by the At-Large community and its direct involvement. An online survey will collect feedback from other ICANN structures and community members, the Board and staff. ITEMS will collect both quantitative and qualitative data through various work methods to develop a sufficient basis for formulating findings and recommendations.

The selection of an independent examiner is done in accordance with ICANN's procurement process and involves Organizational Review Staff and the Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board ("OEC"), who is responsible for overseeing the Organizational Review process. Six proposals were carefully evaluated based on the selection criteria developed in collaboration with the At-Large community. These criteria included:

  • Understanding of the assignment
  • Knowledge and expertise (including knowledge of ICANN)
  • Proposed methodology
  • Flexibility – ability to extend schedule based on community needs
  • Reference checks
  • Financial value
  • Independence including no conflict of interest

ITEMS International is a Paris-based consultancy firm specialized in regulatory and governance aspects of the telecommunications sector and the Internet. Since 1994, ITEMS has conducted numerous high-level consulting assignments for French, European and International clients including Afnic, ICANN, the European Commission, CEPAL, ETSI, Orange and NTT. ITEMS conducted the first Organizational Reviews of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) in 2010, and the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) in 2011. From 2008 to 2012, ITEMS actively promoted the gTLD program, and the regularly advises the French ccTLD Afnic - most recently during the renewal of its contract with the French government to operate the .fr. ITEMS International consultants are multilingual and multidisciplinary, combining academic, industry and regulatory expertise. For further information on ITEMS, visit their website.

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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."