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Announcement | Internet Users Today Get An Additional Voice In How the Internet Develops | ICANN Certifies "At-Large Structures" in Africa, Europe

23 February 2004 - Furthering ICANN's goal to give the world's Internet users a stronger voice in how the Internet develops, four organizations in the African and European regions were certified as "At-Large Structures" today by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They join six groups that were certified as At-Large Structures in December and that are helping individual Internet user communities throughout the world participate in ICANN. Certification recognizes that the following groups meet ICANN's criteria for involving individual Internet users at the local or issue level in ICANN activities and for promoting individuals' understanding of, and participation in, ICANN:

  • Moroccan Internet Society (Region: Africa)
  • Anais.AC (Region: Africa)
  • Sudan Internet Society (Region: Africa)
  • Internet Society - Finland (Region: Europe)

"We are especially pleased to welcome the first set of African At-Large Structures. Now there are ten such groups that have been certified to allow individual Internet users to engage in ICANN activities," said Vittorio Bertola, ICANN Interim At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) Chair. "We're also excited about reviewing six more At-Large Structure applications from Internet user organizations in Asia, Latin America and Europe, and we continue to invite other interested groups to follow their lead and support user involvement in ICANN."

ICANN President and CEO, Dr. Paul Twomey, also welcomed the announcement and said "The At- Large members are a most valuable and unique voice within the Internet community, and these additional organizations, particularly in Africa, are profoundly important. The growing involvement in ICANN of geographically and professionally diverse user groups will help ensure that ICANN's consensus-development efforts best reflect the interests of the global Internet community. The 'At-Large' participation is also a crucial contribution to ICANN's work on such matters as privacy of personal Whois data and the introduction of new domain names (to name a few)."

Any group (either existing organizations or newly formed for this purpose) that enables informed participation by individual Internet users in issues addressed by ICANN can apply for At-Large Structure certification. Interested groups complete and submit to the ALAC a short application form, and groups that meet the minimum requirements are certified. At-Large Structures have a recognized role in the development of ICANN policies. Their members receive information on, and are asked to share their views on, ICANN's work and Internet developments, and they have opportunities to participate in ICANN policy-making groups at the regional and international levels.

A variety of civil society organizations have expressed interest in participating in ICANN as At-Large Structures, including community networking groups, professional societies, consumer advocacy groups, and academic organizations. A complete list of At-Large Structure applicants and their status is posted at


The ALAC is an Advisory Committee to ICANN's Board charged with providing advice on activities of ICANN that relate to the interests of individual Internet users, and helping to organize At-Large groups throughout the world for structured involvement and informed participation in ICANN of the individual Internet user community. The Board appointed a 10 member Interim ALAC in January 2003, and ICANN's Nominating Committee added additional members in June 2003: Africa -- Pierre Dandjinou, Clement Dzidonu, Sunday Folayan; Asia -- Hong Xue, Izumi Aizu, Toshifumi Matsumoto; Latin America -- Sebastian Ricciardi, Erick Iriarte, Tadao Takahashi; Europe -- Vittorio Bertola, Thomas Roessler, Roberto Gaetano; and North America -- Esther Dyson, Wendy Seltzer, and Ken Hamma. Biographies of these individuals, and information on the ALAC, can be found at ALAC members can be reached at


ICANN is a non-profit organization responsible for coordinating the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, including the systems of domain names and numeric addresses that are used to reach all computers on the Internet. ICANN's mission is to ensure the stable and secure operation of these unique identifier systems, which are vital to the Internet's operation. In addition, ICANN coordinates policy development related to these technical functions. For more information, see


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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."