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ICANN's Accomplishments Detailed in Report to U.S. Department of Commerce

Marina del Rey, California, USA (9 January 2003) – While the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been completing its substantive reform efforts over the past nine months, it has made significant progress in other key areas. This message is conveyed by the ICANN Quarterly Report to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), posted today, that covers the period September through December 2002.

"Working through this major reform in such a short period was a Herculean task for the community," notes ICANN President Stuart Lynn, "I deeply appreciate all the many contributions from so many sources. But we are gratified that all this effort did not bring everything else to a grinding halt."

The reform efforts are directed to improvements in ICANN’s mission, governance and support structures. They largely culminated with the ICANN Board's acceptance of new bylaws in October and December 2002.

These reforms and many of the other accomplishments are in partial fulfillment of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) most recently amended and extended in September 2002. The Quarterly Report is also required by the amendment to the MOU.

Other Accomplishments. Among the other accomplishments over the past four months noted in the Report are:

  • Transfer of Dot Org Registry: The transfer of the dot org registry from the former operator, VeriSign, to a new operator, the Public Interest Registry (PIR). This followed a lengthy and complex bidding and evaluation process.
  • Plan for New Sponsored TLDs: The approval of a plan to move forward with a limited number of new sponsored Top Level Domains (TLDs) analogous to the .museum, .aero, and .coop sponsored TLDs approved by ICANN in November 2000. Also, as a step towards possible further expansion of TLDs, the ICANN Board approved a plan to evaluate all seven new TLDs launched in 2001 and 2002.
  • Improved Services to Domain Name Holders: The approval of policies and procedures designed to provide improved services to domain name registrants and potential registrants. These include services that will make it easier for registrants who react soon enough to recover domain names that they would otherwise have lost by forgetting to pay renewal fees.
  • Steps Towards Internationalized Domain Names: Progress on preparation for the introduction of new internationalized domain names (IDNs), allowing for domain names expressed in scripts other than the traditional Roman character set. This is of importance to many countries and cultures around the world.
  • Continued Focus on Internet Stability & Security: Continued efforts to improve Internet stability and security. The ICANN Security Committee has been examining ways to make the Domain Name System even more resistant to external attacks.
  • Strengthening Global Participation: Increased outreach and collaboration efforts to explain how ICANN works and how to make use of its services to registry operators, governments, and other interest members of local Internet communities around the world. This has also led to the signing of a several agreements documenting the relationships among ICANN, local ccTLDs, and local governments.

ICANN's Reforms. The Report details the status of ICANN's reforms that have reshaped its entire governance, support, and advisory structures. This restructuring is directed at making ICANN a more effective organization focused on accomplishment and less preoccupied with process, while retaining its core values of openness, transparency, and accountability. The reforms have also sharpened ICANN's mission, and strengthened its role as a public/private partnership that builds consensus in policy development among those who have an interest in ICANN's areas of responsibility. These interested parties include address and name registries and registrars, technical standards-setting bodies, governments, root server operators, business and non-commercial users, and individual registrants.

"As the Report states", Lynn points out, "the bulk of reform is now complete. Work remains to be done, particularly in completing our understandings with operators of ccTLD registries and with the address registry organizations, but there are constructive discussions underway to move forward."

Among the reforms is fresh thinking on how to bring the voices of individual users and registrants into the decision process. An At-Large Advisory Committee is being formed to channel the thinking of users around the world. Last March, the ICANN Board decided that, at this time, online elections of directors is an expensive process too fraught with dangers of capture and fraud, and more effective means of bringing users to the ICANN table needed to be found. "ALAC," added Lynn, "will help bring this about."


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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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."