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Advisory: Add Grace Period Limits Policy | ICANN announces implementation plan for new consensus policy

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ICANN is today announcing the implementation plan for the new Add Grace Period (AGP) Limits Policy adopted by the ICANN Board on 26 June 2008. A grace period is a specified number of calendar days following a gTLD registry operation in which the operation may be reversed and a credit may be issued to a Registrar. AGP is typically the five-day period following the initial registration of a domain name. Currently, when a domain name is registered through a registrar, that registrar may delete the domain name at any time during the first five calendar days of the registration (the AGP) and receive a full credit for the registration fee from the registry operator. AGP appears as a contractual term in some, but not all gTLD registry agreements.

Posted here is the AGP Limits Policy and the implementation plan. The plan specifies that gTLD Operators (hereinafter referred to as "Operators") must inform each of their accredited Registrars of the new Policy within the next 21 days and subsequently implement the Policy as soon as possible thereafter but no later than 31 March 2009.

The new AGP Limits Policy is based on a detailed recommendation made by the GNSO Council to the Board earlier this year and provides that Operators who offer an AGP to their customers will now be prohibited from making refunds to registrars for AGP deletes that exceed the threshold limits set by the Policy. The limits defined by the Policy are (i) 10% of that registrar's net new registrations (calculated as the total number of net adds of one-year through ten-year registrations as defined in the monthly reporting requirement of Operator Agreements) in that month, or (ii) fifty (50) domain names, whichever is greater, unless an exemption is requested by a Registrar and subsequently granted by an Operator. While Operators will initially have significant flexibility on how to treat such requests, ICANN Staff will monitor the process closely and modifications will be recommended if any additional patterns of abusive behavior are detected.

The implementation plan is the result of extensive public deliberations which were part of the GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) on domain tasting, outreach to Operators and ICANN-accredited Registrars, and public comment on a draft implementation plan.

The plan includes significant changes to the reporting obligations of Operators. Operators will now be required to submit as part of their monthly reporting requirement information for each Registrar including, but not limited to, the number of exemption requests, number of exemptions granted, numbers of names affected by granted exemption requests and number of AGP deletes if this information is not currently defined in the Operator’s monthly reporting requirement. Additionally, the monitoring requirements in the plan require ICANN to publish status reports on the implementation effort which will include a review of all exemption requests and their disposition, names of registrars that have recurring requests for exemptions and the reasons for these exemptions as well as other information defined in the plan.

The recent announcement to the ICANN Community on 13 November 2008 reported that AGP deletes decreased by 84% from June to July 2008 as a result of the related AGP budget provision adopted by the Board for fiscal year 2009. The budget provision has the same thresholds as the AGP Limits Policy. The AGP Limits Policy will carry a much higher financial penalty (i.e., the domain name registration fee paid by Registrars to Operators) than the budget provision (i.e., the current registrar-level transaction fee of US$0.20) for excessive AGP deletes. It is expected that following implementation of the Policy, AGP deletes will continue to decline until few or none are subject to excess delete fees.

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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"""" is not an IDN."