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ICANN Marks Anniversary of Passing of Jon Postel

Oct 16, 2005 marks the seventh anniversary of Jon Postel's death. It very nearly coincides with the founding of ICANN. It is appropriate to remind ourselves of Jon's enduring legacy as the long-term Internet Assigned Numbers Authority in whose footsteps ICANN seeks to follow. The Internet world has changed immeasurably in just the last seven years. It is in use by over a billion people and on the order of 76 million second-level domain names have been registered and on the order of 2 billion Internet addresses have been allocated. The economic effects of the on-line world evolving atop the Internet infrastructure are far-reaching and the level of interest in policies associated with the Internet's unique systems of identification has reached high up in the world's governments and business enterprises. It seems fitting to be reminded in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society that the integrity, efficiency and reliability of ICANN's operation is vital to all who rely on the Internet for their daily activities. Those of us with responsibility for any aspect of ICANN's mission should seek to help carry out the work with the same sense of integrity and humility that marked Jon's stewardship for a quarter of a century.


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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."