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ICANN Successfully Concludes Cape Town Meetings

Cape Town, South Africa. This week over 735 participants from 91 countries successfully concluded the ICANN Annual Meeting in Cape Town. The meeting included technical and industry leaders, Internet users from Africa and around the world, ministers and governmental representatives. ICANN stakeholders from 25 African countries joined the proceedings.

  • Africa's At-Large Internet Community members advanced awareness and further integrated the African community in the ICANN process, creating a much deeper understanding of the Internet landscape in Africa, and of the challenges faced by African stakeholders.
  • ICANN stakeholders held their third WSIS workshop to update the community on proceedings within the international discussions on Internet governance. They were addressed by a panel of African leaders who put forward many of the key issues of developing nation Internet communities. Also addressing the community were the newly appointed chairman of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), Nitan Desai, Special Advisor to the Secretary General for the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator, Secretariat of the WGIG. ICANN constituency groups agreed to formulate and sign a joint resolution regarding Internet governance which will be included in a jointly prepared White Paper to be distributed widely in the Internet governance discussions.
  • This was the 20th meeting of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Many GAC members were present in Cape Town -- of particular mention, the representatives present from the Africa region were from South Africa, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Gambia and Tanzania. Outcomes of this Regional Forum are included in the official GAC Communiqué which will be available on its website.
  • The Country Code Domain Name Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) moved forward on discussions regarding its ccTLD Principles, and announced its intention to review the GAC paper regarding the Principles through its appropriate Working Group. Additionally, the ccNSO and the GAC have established a joint liaison group which will identify issues of common interest.
  • A second IDN workshop successfully brought together experts on integrating local languages with the global Internet. With African languages as the focus, these experts explored the range of cultural and technical issues that must be overcome to bring the many local language forms to everyday use on the Internet. Participants identified topics for further discussion and plan to continue their work in future forums.
  • Frank Fowlie, the new ICANN Ombudsman, was introduced to the ICANN community at the Cape Town meeting and announced the posting of his framework document that can be found on the ICANN website. The appointment of Mr. Fowlie represents ICANN's further commitment to ensuring ICANN's accountability to the global Internet Community.
  • ICANN's Board approved the finalisation of a Request for Proposals for designating a successor operator for the .NET registry. The current .NET Registry Agreement was signed in May 2001, and will expire on 30 June 2005. VeriSign is eligible to be considered for designation as the successor registry operator. The procedure for selecting the successor operator was developed through an open and transparent process incorporating opportunities for public review and comment at multiple stages. Completed .NET proposals will be due in January 2005. Proposals will be evaluated by an independent third-party, based on pre-established criteria developed through ICANN's bottom-up, consensus-based policy development system. The designation of the successful proposal is scheduled for March 2005.

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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."