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.org Agreement Signed; Transition Plans Announced

Marina del Rey, California USA (3 December 2002) – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) President and CEO, Stuart Lynn has signed the finalized agreement for the Public Interest Registry (PIR) to operate the .org top-level domain. PIR takes over from VeriSign, the current .org registry operator, as of 1 January 2003.

To ensure a smooth handoff, PIR – a subsidiary of the Internet Society (ISOC) – and VeriSign have planned a 25-day transition period until 25 January 2003, to give ICANN-accredited registrars time to adapt to the new system. ".Org users and registrants should thus not see any interruption of service," said Lynn. PIR has subcontracted with Afilias, the operator of the .info top level domain launched last year, to provide back end services.

.Org is the Internet’s fifth largest top level domain housing over 2.6 million domain names worldwide. PIR is committed to operating the registry in an open manner that will offer new benefits and enhanced services for non-commercial organizations. "For example, new registrations will become operational in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days," Lynn noted.

Earlier this year, the ICANN Board of Directors selected PIR/ISOC, from among 11 organizations bidding to operate the .org top-level domain. VeriSign is relinquishing .org to comply with an agreement they entered into with ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce in May 2001.

ISOC, founded in 1991, has members in more than 100 countries. It is also home to the Internet standard setting bodies, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).

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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."