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ICANN Board Selects New .org Registry Operator

Marina del Rey, California USA (14 October 2002) – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors voted 11 to 1 (with three abstentions) today to select the proposal submitted by the Internet Society (ISOC) for a new registry operator of the .org top-level domain, to replace VeriSign.

ISOC has established a new organization, Public Interest Registry (PIR), which will be the registry operator, subject to agreements to be negotiated between ICANN and PIR. PIR will subcontract with Afilias, the operator of .info – the new gTLD approved by ICANN last year – to provide operational support. ISOC is responsible for appointing the Board of Directors of PIR, which will otherwise operate as a not-for-profit entity separate from ISOC.

Subject to final agreements, PIR will assume operations of the .org registry from VeriSign on 1 January 2003. Stuart Lynn, president of ICANN, noted "ISOC/PIR presented ICANN with a very solid transition plan. Current registrants in .org should notice no interruption of service."

An extensive bid solicitation and evaluation process 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. Lynn thanked all eleven bidders for the excellence of their proposals and for their "commitment and interest through a long and arduous process. It is a shame that we cannot select all eleven, but obviously that is impossible."

As part of the evaluation, 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 that just participated in the early stages of the evaluation. Another team was provided by ICANN’s Non Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency that focused on the effectiveness of the proposals to address the particular needs of the .org registry. Additional input came from extensive comments by the public and the applicants themselves.

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 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.

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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."