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Milestone Agreement Reached Between ICANN, and F Root Server Operator, Internet Systems Consortium | First-of-its-kind agreement recognizes mutual responsibilities, supports enhanced Internet stability

Marina del Rey, CA: ICANN and Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) are today announcing the signing of a Mutual Responsibilities Agreement [PDF, 20K] for the operation of the F-root nameserver.

Effective root server operations are an essential component in providing a stable and secure, globally interoperable Internet. ISC is one of twelve global root server operators that provide a key element of the underlying domain name system infrastructure of the Internet. Essentially, root servers provide an authoritative directory ensuring Internet services that are accessed with names, for example the URL www.icann.org or email to info@isc.org, are translated from human readable names into network addresses that a computer can find. The root server system overall answers well over 100,000 queries per second, providing the first step in determining the requested network address.

Root server operators have participated in the ICANN community since its inception in 1998, but to date, there has not been a formal written recognition of the mutual roles ICANN and the root operators perform with respect to each other. The agreement between ICANN and ISC is the first formalization of mutual responsibilities between a root server operator and ICANN. The agreement outlines a structure and description of duties and expectations, dispute resolution, and interchange of technical information.

Paul Vixie, ISC’s President said "I’m pleased that ISC could take a first step with ICANN in completing this agreement. Since the creation of F Root in 1994, ISC has always felt honored to provide this service and is responsible to the entire Internet community to ensure that the F-root nameserver is reachable 24x7. Formalized expectations between ICANN and root operators will result in a wider understanding of the key operational and stability issues of most concern to the root operator community and the Internet community as a whole."

Paul Twomey, ICANN’s CEO and President said "Congratulations to ISC for being the first root operator to formalize the mutual relationship with ICANN. ICANN’s core mission is overall security and stability of the domain name system, and this agreement is another important step in coordinating the key players, and ensuring that mutual accountabilities are documented and transparent."

Both ICANN and ISC expect that this agreement may serve as a model for similar agreements with the other eleven root server operators in the coming months. Final adoption of this agreement will come with ratification by both organizations’ Boards, and is expected in January.

About ISC:

Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3), public benefit corporation with a long history of developing and maintaining the production quality BIND and DHCP Open Source software. ISC has increased its focus to include enhancing the stability of the global DNS directly through reliable F-root name server operations and ongoing operation of a DNS crisis coordination center, ISCs OARC for DNS. ISC is also engaged in further protocol development efforts, particularly in the areas of DNS evolution and facilitating the transition to IPv6. ISC is supported by the donations of generous sponsors, program membership fees and specific fees for services. For program or donation information, please visit our website at http://www.isc.org.

Media Contact: Laura Hendriksen, 650-423-1309, laura_hendriksen@isc.org

Technical Contact: Joao Damas, joao_damas@isc.org

About ICANN:

ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet. Careful management of these resources is vital to the Internet's operation, so ICANN's global stakeholders meet regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability. ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit company. For more information please visit: www.icann.org.

Media Contacts:

Jason Keenan
Media Adviser, ICANN (USA)
Ph: +1 310 382 4004
E: jason.keenan@icann.org

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


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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."