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Preliminary Report to ICANN Board: ISOC to Run .org?

Marina del Rey, California USA (19 August 2002) Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) posted a preliminary Staff Report on the selection of a new registry operator to assume responsibility on January 1, 2003 for the .org registry. The report, which is subject to public comment and comment by all the bidders before being submitted for approval to the ICANN Board of Directors, recommends that the Board select the Internet Society (ISOC) as the successor registry operator for the .org registry, currently operated by VeriSign.

This preliminary report follows an extensive bid solicitation and evaluation process that was launched last April. Eleven bids were received in response to a Request for Proposals. These bids were analyzed and evaluated by three evaluation teams that operated independently of each other.

“We received eleven very strong and thoughtful proposals,” noted Stuart Lynn, President of ICANN. “We appreciate the response of the institutions behind these proposals. The ISOC proposal was the only one that received top ranking from all three evaluation teams. On balance, their proposal stood out from the rest.” Lynn also emphasized the openness and transparency of the solicitation and evaluation process.

Two evaluation teams focused on technical issues: one from Gartner, Inc., an international consulting and research organization that specializes in information technologies, and the other a team mainly composed of CIOs of major universities. Another team was provided by ICANN’s Non Commercial Domain Name Holders constituency; the NCDNHC team focused on the effectiveness of the proposals to address the particular needs of the .org registry. The staff report integrates these evaluations and other factors into the preliminary recommendation.

ISOC is an international not-for-profit organization of over 6,000 individual and 150 organizational members with chapters in over 100 countries. It provides leadership in addressing issues that confront the future of the Internet, as well as being a home for the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Internet Architecture Board. In operating the .org registry, ISOC will team with Afilias, an operating registry that recently launched the .info top level domain (TLD) that was authorized by ICANN as one of seven new TLDs over this past year.

“Afilias will provide ISOC with the necessary experience at operating a large registry,” said Lynn. “The .info registry already houses about 1 million domain names, which is on a scale that approaches the much older .org registry.”

ICANN is re-assigning the .org registry under a revised agreement among ICANN, VeriSign, and the U.S. Department of Commerce that was signed in May 2001. Under that agreement, VeriSign was permitted to keep its registrar business, NSI (that it was obligated to sell under the prior agreements) provided that it agreed to relinquish .org at the end of December 2002, and subject to other provisions of the revised agreements. As part of those revised agreements, VeriSign agreed to endow the new operator with US$ 5 million to help fund operating costs, provided that the new operator was a not-for-profit organization.

Following an open and transparent process, ICANN has posted all eleven applications online together with all supplemental material and community comments received. The preliminary staff report and the evaluations are posted at Applicants and any member of the community are invited to send comments on the preliminary report and evaluations by e-mail to

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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."