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Public Comments Requested on DNS Stability: The Effect of New gTLDs on the Internet Domain Name System

DNS Stability: The Effect of New Generic Top Level Domains
on the Internet Domain Name System
[PDF, 53K]

The ICANN community has recently completed a policy development process regarding the introduction of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This effort took place within ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) (see http://gnso.icann.org/) and resulted in a set of recommendations (see http://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/pdp-dec05-fr-parta-08aug07.htm#_Toc43798015) to guide ICANN in introducing new gTLDs to the namespace.

In its recommendations, the GNSO concluded that "ICANN must implement a process that allows the introduction of new top-level domains," and called for a procedure respecting the principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination. In preparing for the expected implementation of the gTLD policy recommendations, staff is conducting some review and analysis of the technical issues involved in this development. The addition of gTLDs to the namespace is an expansion of the DNS on a potentially large scale, to include many more names at the top level. One of the policy recommendations developed in relation to the introduction of new gTLDs included the requirement that "Strings must not cause any technical instability." ICANN is publishing this paper to solicit informed input on the technical issues relevant to the addition of new gTLDs, and to provide transparency toward how it will interpret and implement this recommendation. The goal is a clear set of rules that will be available to potential new gTLD applicants; so that it is known from the outset what tests will be applied to each application.

ICANN is seeking feedback on the proposed approach as a step in its implementation planning for the introduction of new gTLDs. Comments may be submitted to new-gtlds-dns-stability@icann.org by March 7 2008. Comments can be viewed at http://forum.icann.org/lists/new-gtlds-dns-stability/.

For more information about the New gTLD Program, please go to http://www.icann.org/topics/new-gtld-program.htm.


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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."