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IDN Guidelines Update and Posting of Version 2.1

The ICANN Board resolution of 8 November 2005 endorsing the v.2.0 Guidelines "tasks the IDN working group to continue its important work and return to the board with specific IDN improvement recommendations before the ICANN Meeting in Morocco, currently scheduled for June 2006."

Below is a report provided on behalf of the IDN TLD Working Group, on the action that the group is conducting in response to the above mentioned request from the ICANN Board. In addition to meetings scheduled for the IDN TLD Working Group, this group will present their work on an ongoing basis to the Presidents Advisory committee for IDNs prior to the work being posted online at www.icann.org.

As such the version 2.1 of the IDN Guidelines, as mentioned below, was on the agenda at the Presidents Advisory Committee for IDNs meeting on 8 February 2006. The Committee supported the process outlined by the IDN TLD Working Group, as well as the content and posting of the version 2.1 of the IDN Guidelines. The Committee further recommended ICANN to make an announcement of this process and the version 2.1 of the IDN Guidelines, and to re-open the IDN Forum for discussion of the continued process for revision of the IDN Guidelines.

The forum for discussing the IDN Guidelines is available at http://www.icann.org/topics/idn/fora.htm and the email address for this forum is idn-guidelines@icann.org.

The version 2.1 of the IDN Guidelines is made available at http://www.icann.org/topics/idn/implementation-guidelines.htm .

If there are additional comments to this version (v.2.1) of the IDN Guidelines, please use the designated forum as mentioned above.

On a separate note the IDN Guidelines have been posted in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish. Continued translations will be made and all will be made available at http://www.icann.org/topics/idn/

On behalf of the IDN TLD Working Group:

Rather than preparing a single proposal for a v.3.0 to be presented shortly before the June meeting, the Working Group will revise v.2 incrementally. This work will be done on an on-going basis via e-mail and the Working Group will meet via telephonic conference at least one time per month, and the week prior to every scheduled meeting of the President's Advisory Committee for IDNs. Since the Working Group anticipates there being fewer than ten such occasions prior to Morocco, the Working Group will present any revised text that has been prepared subsequent to the most recent Committee meeting, at the following meeting as v.2.1 through v.2.9. This numbering system is not correlated to the scope of the proposed revision and is solely an administrative expedient.

It is the Working Group's intention that each such revised text replace the previous version on the ICANN Web site at the earliest possible time. The extent to which any specific revision may first require a period of public commentary or explicit Board endorsement, the Working Group will ask the President's Advisory Committee to decide. The Working Group also looks forward to the discussion of substantive issues within the Committee itself.

The revision that the Working Group is putting forward as v.2.1 is restricted to the reintroduction of a provision that was included in v.1.0 and in the first draft of v.2.0 as posted for public commentary. Several of the responses to the first draft suggested the need for reducing the amount of strongly prescriptive wording it contained. The Working Group therefore dropped a technically worded block of text as being an unnecessary restatement of conditions that are also stated in the TLD agreements with ICANN.

What the Working Group unfortunately overlooked in that action was that it made an unfounded assumption about the corresponding requirement being made in future agreements between TLD operators and ICANN. It also removed an essential reference to a technical condition that is clearly necessary in all applications of the Guidelines in other less formal contexts. The Working Group is therefore adding the following Guideline #9 to the v.2.0 text, and releasing it as v.2.1:

"The UseSTD3ASCIIRules flag described in RFC 3490 must be set when performing ToASCII conversions to produce ACE names."

This is a verbatim restatement of what was in both v.1.0 and the v.2.0 that was posted for public review, without being the focus of any specific commentary whatsoever.

The preparation of v.2.2 is already in progress and will address a number of additional matters still pending from the previous round of public commentary. The Working Group wishes to do this in light of the IAB report on "IDN nextsteps".

IDN TLD Working Group Members:

  • gTLD Registry Constituency Representatives:

    • Cary Karp, MuseDoma

    • Pat Kane, VeriSign

    • Ram Mohan, Afilias

  • ccNSO Representatives:

    • Hiro Hotta, JPRS

    • Mohammed EL Bashir, .sd Registry

  • ICANN Staff:

    • Tina Dam


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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."