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New Agreement Means Greater Independence in Managing the Internet's System of Unique Identifiers

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today signed a new agreement with the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) that is a dramatic step forward for full management of the Internet's system of centrally coordinated identifiers through the multi-stakeholder model of consultation that ICANN represents.

"ICANN has secured an agreement that recognizes it as being responsible for the management of the Internet's system of unique identifiers on an ongoing basis. It means ICANN is more autonomous," Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN said.

Previous to this agreement there was a Memorandum of Understanding between the DOC and ICANN that was highly prescriptive. The MOU expires on 30 September 2006.

"The United States Department of Commerce has clearly signaled that multi-stakeholder management of the Internet's system of unique identifiers is the way ahead and ICANN is the obvious organization to take that responsibility," Dr Twomey stated.

The major gains in this new agreement are:

- ICANN will no longer have its work prescribed for it. How it works and what it works on is up to ICANN and its community to devise;

- ICANN is not required to report every 6 months as it has been under the MOU. It will now provide an annual report that will be targeted to the whole Internet community;

- There is no requirement to report regularly to the DOC. The DOC will simply meet with senior ICANN staff from time to time.

"The ICANN model of multi-stakeholder consultation is working and this agreement endorses it. Our community makes it work and we are constantly evolving and improving through their advice and support," Dr Twomey said. "This is a great achievement for the ICANN community. Our community is made up of very committed, highly skilled individuals most of whom are volunteers and take their responsibilities very seriously. This result is a tribute to their efforts," he added.

Documents Describing the Agreement and Background Information

About ICANN:

ICANN is a non-profit organization responsible for coordinating the Internet's systems of unique identifiers, including the systems of domain names and numeric addresses that are used to reach computers on the Internet*. ICANN's mission is to ensure the stable and secure operation of these unique identifier systems, which are vital to the Internet's operation. In addition, ICANN coordinates policy development related to these technical functions through its effective bottom-up consensus model.

(* This includes 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 zone management for the root server system)

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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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."