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Deployment of Internationalized Domain Names

Marina del Rey, California, USA (20 June 2003) – ICANN today announced the commencement of global deployment of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which will allow use on the Internet of domain names in languages used in all parts of the world. In October 2002, the Internet Engineering Steering Group approved the publication of a standardized way of integrating IDNs into the Internet's domain-name system (DNS). After the proposed technical standard was published in March 2003, the ICANN Board endorsed an approach for implementation of the technical standard that had been developed cooperatively by ICANN and leading IDN registries.

Following up on the Board's endorsement, ICANN and the leading IDN registries finalized an agreed text of the principles to be followed in IDN registration activities. Those "Guidelines for the Implementation of Internationalized Domain Names" (version 1.0) were published today. IDN registries adhering to the Guidelines will employ language-specific registration and administration rules that are documented and publicly available. These IDN registries will work collaboratively with each other and with interested stakeholders to develop the language-specific policies, with the objective of achieving consistent approaches to IDN implementation to maintain Internet interoperability for the benefit of DNS users worldwide.

The registries for the .cn (China), .jp (Japan), and .tw (Taiwan) country codes, as well as for the .info and .org generic top-level domains, have committed to adhere to the Guidelines. As authorized by the ICANN Board in March, registries seeking to deploy IDNs under their agreements with ICANN will be authorized to do so on the basis of the Guidelines. In addition, the ICANN Board has recommended the Guidelines to other registries, and encourages broad participation by registries, language experts, and others in consultative, collaborative, community-based processes to study and develop appropriate language-specific IDN registration rules and policies.

As the deployment of IDNs proceeds, ICANN and the participating IDN registries have agreed to work together to review Guidelines at regular intervals based on their deployment experience, and to make any necessary adjustments.

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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."