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ICANN and US Commerce Department Extend Agreement Through September 2003

Marina del Rey, California USA (20 September 2002) – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the United States Department of
Commerce today announced that they agreed to extend their joint Memorandum of Understanding for another year until 30 September 2003.

"We are pleased that the Department of Commerce and ICANN were able to reach agreement on what would best serve the global Internet community. The continued cooperation and support of the Department of Commerce will allow ICANN to complete its ongoing reform processes, and to resume progress towards its stated goals," noted ICANN President/CEO M. Stuart Lynn.

On 25 of November of 1998, the United States Government entered a Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN, recognizing it as the private-sector, not-for-profit corporation that should assume a set of technical coordination and related policy development responsibilities for the Internet. ICANN has made significant progress since its inception. For example, ICANN recently rolled out seven new top level domain names like ".name", ".museum,"".biz" and ".info" to join the familiar ".com," and has enabled robust competition in the business of selling domain name registrations, resulting in dramatically lower prices and improved services for consumers.

The MOU has twice before been extended for one-year periods. This third extension includes several jointly developed modifications that ensure that ICANN can better serve the Internet community.

In summary, the extended MOU states, among other provisions, that:

  • The Department of Commerce reaffirms its goal of private-sector management and coordination of the Internet's naming and addressing systems.
  • The Department of Commerce expresses its support for ICANN's efforts to reexamine its mission, structure, and processes.
  • ICANN will continue to develop improved transparency and accountability measures, and mechanisms that foster informed participation in ICANN by the global Internet community.
  • ICANN and the Department of Commerce will continue to collaborate on a study of and a plan for an enhanced root-server system architecture.
  • ICANN and the Department of Commerce will continue to collaborate, together with the Governmental Advisory Committee, on efforts to achieve stable agreements with country code top-level domain (ccTLD) operators.
  • ICANN will continue the process of implementing new global top-level domains, including evaluation of the technical effects, selection procedures, and consumer costs/benefits of new TLDs.
  • ICANN and the Department of Commerce will work together to pursue formal legal agreements with the regional Internet address registries (RIRs), and to achieve stable relationships that allow them to continue their technical work, while more effectively incorporating their policy-development activities into the ICANN process;
  • ICANN will provide quarterly reports to the Commerce Department beginning 31 December 2002.

ICANN’s overarching goal is to maintain stability and security in the technical management of the Internet’s naming and address allocation systems, based on core principles of competition, bottom-up coordination, and open participation by the global Internet community.

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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."