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ICANN Announces Formalisation of Relationship with UK ccTLD Manager

Marrakech, Morocco, 30 June 2006: ICANN has today announced that it has signed an exchange of letters with United Kingdom country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) manager, Nominet. This demonstrates a willingness to develop cooperation between ICANN and Nominet, the registry responsible for the United Kingdom ccTLD .uk. Nominet has become the seventh registry to formalize their relationship with ICANN in the past two months.

Nominet will also be joining ICANN's country code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) to ensure that the .uk domain name space is represented in the global Internet arena. Nominet will be the largest registry to join the ccNSO since it was established.

Announced by ICANN in February, the Accountability Framework program provides two mechanisms by which ccTLD managers can formalise their relationship with ICANN. The first is an Accountability Framework document that sets out the obligations of a ccTLD manager and ICANN. It also covers dispute resolution and termination and is designed for ccTLD managers requiring a formal document with ICANN.

The second mechanism is an exchange of letters between ICANN and the ccTLD manager designed for those for whom a simple statement of commitment is more appropriate.

Commenting on the letter exchange with Nominet, Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN said: "We are pleased that this exchange of letters has taken place, reinforcing the continuing momentum of ICANN and its ever strengthening relationships with Internet registries."

"The new Accountability Framework program will streamline the process of formalising relationships with ICANN and we expect that more ccTLD managers will make use of these mechanisms in the near future".

Lesley Cowley, Nominet's Chief Executive said, "We have been encouraged by the steps that ICANN has taken recently to improve its models of engagement with the Internet community. Whilst there is still work to do, we are confident that it is moving in the right direction and we are keen to provide support."

BACKGROUND

As the Internet has evolved over time, and commercialised, one of the areas of interest of stakeholders has been the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to recognise responsible entities and to reflect informal relationships, thereby clarifying respective roles and responsibilities.

Since 2000, ICANN has been working with managers of ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs that have been established for countries and some territories) to document further their relationship with ICANN. These relationships are complex, because of the varying circumstances (in terms of type of organisation, policies followed, economics, language, culture, legal environment, and relations with governments) of different ccTLDs and the organisations that operate them.

ICANN has formalised relationships with a number of ccTLD managers, such as .au, .jp and .ke through sponsorship agreements. However, in recognition that these agreements are very detailed documents ICANN sought the ccNSO's assistance to develop a broadly agreed set of baseline criteria which could form the basis for what has become known as an accountability framework. ICANN intended to develop an accountability framework document based on the broadly agreed baselines, with the flexibility to individually tailor the document in respect of individual ccTLD circumstances. The document would be as lightweight as possible.

The initial request for assistance was made at the ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 2004.

The ccNSO subsequently formed an Accountability Frameworks Working Group comprising members of the ccNSO and the broader ccTLD community. In addition to discussion among members of the working group, significant discussions were also held during ccNSO meetings in Cape Town, Mar del Plata and Luxembourg.

On 14 December 2005, the ccNSO Council resolved to publish the Accountability Framework Working Group Interim Report as guidelines for ccTLD managers to consider when discussing an accountability framework with ICANN. On 19 December 2005, the Council published the resolution to the ccNSO members list and as seven days has lapsed since this publication without objection the guidelines are now operational. The guidelines were published on the ICANN ccNSO website on 6 January 2006.

About ICANN

ICANN is an internationally organised, public benefit non-profit responsible for coordinating 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. For more information please visit: http://icann.org.

Media Contacts

International
Andrew Robertson, Edelman (London)
Ph: +44 7921 588 770
E: andrew.robertson@edelman.com

Tanzanica King, ICANN (USA)
Ph: +1 310 301 5804
E: tanzanica.king@icann.org


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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."