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ICANN Board Approves VeriSign Settlement Agreements

Marina del Rey, California, 28 February 2006: Today, ICANN's Board of Directors approved, by a majority vote, a set of agreements settling a long time dispute between ICANN and VeriSign, the registry operator for the .COM registry.

These settlement documents include a new registry agreement relating to the operation of the .COM registry. The new .COM registry agreement will now proceed to the U.S. Department of Commerce for final approval, and the entire settlement is dependent upon this approval before it is finalized. USDOC approval is required due to the unique history of the .COM generic top-level domain and it is the only gTLD which requires such approval. If approved, this settlement will clear the way for a new and productive relationship between ICANN and VeriSign facilitating ICANN's stewardship and technical coordination of the Internet's domain name system.

ICANN's Board voted 9 to 5 in favor of the settlement agreements with one director abstaining. Affirmative votes were cast by the following Board Members: Vint Cerf (Chairman), Alejandro Pisanty (Vice-Chairman), Mouhamet Diop, Demi Getschko, Hagen Hultzsch, Veni Markovski, Vanda Scartezini, Paul Twomey (President and CEO), and Hualin Qian. Directors who voted against the approval of the settlement documents were: Raimundo Beca, Susan Crawford, Joichi Ito, Njeri Rionge, and Peter Dengate Thrush. Director Michael Palage abstained. Statements by Board members on their votes will be posted on the ICANN website within the next two days.

In other business during today's meeting, the ICANN Board approved seven separate recommendations by ICANN's ccNSO (Country-Code Name Supporting Organization) regarding improvements and clarifications to the ICANN Bylaws. One recommendation was put over for additional discussion with the ccNSO at ICANN's upcoming meeting in Wellington, New Zealand scheduled for the last week of March. These policy recommendations were presented to the ICANN Board from the first policy development process (ccPDP) conducted by the ccNSO. This successful policy development process generated from the ccTLD community was a significant milestone for ICANN's technical coordination of the Internet's domain name system.

About ICANN

ICANN is an internationally organised, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

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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."