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ICANN Posts Report for First Quarter of 2003

Marina del Rey, California, USA (14 April 2003) – In the first quarter of 2003, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made significant progress in several key substantive areas, while continuing towards completion of its reformed structure begun a year ago. The details are described in the ICANN Quarterly Report to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), just posted, for the first quarter of 2003.

Among the accomplishments noted in the Report are:

  • Enhanced Services to Domain Name Holders and Users: Several important initiatives to introduce new services to the domain-name system, or to improve existing services, were introduced. A framework was approved for the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names that can appear in the character sets used throughout the world. The Redemption Grace Period program, which allows restoration of domains within thirty days in case of registrant or registrar error, was implemented in the .com and .net top-level domains. Policy adjustments were adopted to improve the accuracy of Whois data and avoid its use for purposes of solicitations. Progress was made on developing policies to streamline the process by which customers can change their registrars and to provide for a uniform timetable for deleting names when registrations expire.
  • Continued Focus on Internet Stability & Security: Efforts continued 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, including publication of recommendations on "Securing the Edge" and enhancing the utility of the Whois system to help in addressing security incidents.
  • Completion of .Org Transition: The transition of the .org registry from operation by VeriSign to Public Interest Registry (a newly formed, non-profit operator) was completed in January 2003, without technical incident.
  • New TLD Evaluation and Criteria: ICANN launched a study of the introduction of the seven new top-level domains in 2001-2002, to allow improvements to the process for future introductions. The ICANN Generic Names Supporting Organization began considering issues concerning the possible long-range structuring of the domain-name system namespace. Work progressed toward a solicitation of proposals for a limited number of "sponsored" TLDs to be introduced while the broader study is ongoing.
  • Reform of ICANN's Relationship with RIRs: Discussions continued among the Regional Internet Registries and ICANN that should lead toward a strengthened, mutually beneficial process for cooperation in maintaining a stable and responsive system for allocation of IP addresses.
  • ccTLD Issues: A concrete proposal for a new supporting organization to be concerned with issues relevant to country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) was published and extensively discussed. ICANN reached formal agreements with managers of three additional ccTLDs.
  • Strengthening Global Participation: ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee, which is responsible for promoting participation in ICANN by Internet users globally, began operations. Its immediate focus is to work toward development of local organizations that allow users to have meaningful, informed participation in development of policies within ICANN.
  • Launch of Nominating Committee: ICANN launched its first Nominating Committee, which will choose over half of the ICANN Board and key members of other ICANN bodies. These selections are scheduled to be completed in early June, which will be an important step in completing the transition to ICANN 2.0.
  • Strengthening of ICANN's Organizational Resources: ICANN selected a new President, filled several vacant staff positions, and moved toward securing funding levels adequate to allow it to fulfill its mission.

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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."