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ccTLD Agreement Signed with auDA

Marina del Rey, California, USA (25 October 2001) - The Internet for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the signing of its first formal agreement with a country code top level domain (ccTLD) operator. The agreement is with the auDA, the operator of the Australian ccTLD registry for domain names that end in the suffix, .au.

"It is not surprising that the Australian ccTLD would be the first to sign an agreement," said ICANN President/CEO, M. Stuart Lynn. "The Australian Internet community and the Australian government have a longstanding commitment to ICANN. Australia has a well developed Internet community due in no small measure to the pioneering work of Robert Elz." Elz, an engineer at the University of Melbourne, has managed .au since it was established. Earlier this year, it was announced that .au would be turned over to auDA.

auDA – which stands for ".au Domain Administration" – is a non-profit company that was established in April 1999 by the Australian Internet community. Subject to Australian government oversight, auDA, will now act as the industry self-regulatory body for the .au namespace, with responsibility for introducing competition in the Australian domain name registration space, evolution of .au names policy, and the introduction of an Australian domain name dispute resolution process.

"This is a significant milestone for Australia's Internet users and for the global Internet community," observed Chris Disspain, CEO of auDA. "We are pleased to have signed an agreement with ICANN, and are committed to our role in ICANN's larger mandate of coordinating global Internet stability."

Australia was an early participant in the Internet, beginning with the Australian Computer Science Network (ACSnet) in the mid-1970s. The .au ccTLD was delegated to Robert Elz in March 1986, shortly after the Internet domain-name system was deployed in 1985 by the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (which then performed the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions under contract to the United States Government). Robert Elz has been a long-standing leader in the development of the Internet in Australia, and has selflessly served in a volunteer capacity since his appointment as .au ccTLD's manager. Australia has a population of nearly 20,000,000, of which over an estimated 8,000,000 are Internet users.

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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."