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IDN Fast Track Process Update

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ICANN recently proposed (for public comment) a Draft Implementation Plan for the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) on a limited basis for ccTLDs. The Plan follows the recommendations of the ICANN's policy making supporting organizations and advisory committees. Those recommendations are available at http://ccnso.icann.org/workinggroups/idnc-wg-board-proposal-25jun08.pdf [PDF, 101K].

Since the recent closure of the first public comment period on the Draft Implementation Plan for the IDN ccTLD "Fast Track" Process, ICANN has been developing proposals for the next version of the draft Plan for community review and comment at the ICANN Mexico City Meeting (March 2009).

The public comment period opened on 23 October 2008, and was extended to January 7, 2009, to consider an updated version of the Draft Implementation Plan that was released on 26 November 2008, following the community collaborations during the ICANN meeting in Cairo, Egypt.

There were 17 comments from participants from 11 different countries. Participating were individuals and organizations representing: business owners, ICANN supporting organizations, domain name industry players, and governments.

"Although relatively few in number, these comments are important and being carefully considered as the next version of the Plan is developed", said Tina Dam, ICANN's IDN Program Director.

Some of the key concerns raised by the community in the Draft Implementation Plan are related to open issues:

  • The form of relationship between the prospective IDN ccTLD managers and ICANN
  • Financial considerations, including IDN application evaluation fees and annual registry fees
  • Prevention of contention problems between IDN ccTLD strings, and existing and proposed gTLD strings
  • The role of IDN language tables

A new version of the Draft Implementation Plan and supporting documentation will be released prior to the ICANN Meeting in Mexico City, Mexico.

"ICANN thanks everyone who provided comments, said Ms. Dam, "they join thousands of people who have participated in this process."


My Name My Language My Internet

After years of development, discussion, review and thought, internationalized domains are being expanded. While IDNs have been available under certain TLDs since 2001 (for test purposes) and since 2003 (under technical protocol) they will now become available as TLDs as well. They will allow for more innovation, choice and change to a global Internet presently served by just 21 generic top-level domain names.

For the IDN ccTLDs a Draft Implementation Plan has been developed with opportunities for public comment. The draft plan describes processes for countries and territories to request their country or territory name in their local language or script as an IDN ccTLD. There has been and will continue to be detailed technical scrutiny to ensure the Internet's stability and security. For more details see http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/

For IDN gTLDs, while technically no different than the IDN ccTLDs, these will become available through the process for introduction of new gTLDs.

A draft guidebook for new gTLDs has also been made available for public comment, see http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-program.htm for more details. Additional comment periods will open shortly and ICANN staff is looking forward to further discussions during the upcoming ICANN meeting in Mexico City, Mexico.

ICANN is a not for profit corporation dedicated to coordinating the Internet's addressing system. Promoting competition and choice is one of the principles upon which ICANN was founded. In a world with 1.5 billion Internet users (and growing), diversity, choice and innovation are key.

The Internet has supported huge increases in choice, innovation and the competition of ideas and expanding the concept of TLDs is an opportunity for more.


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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."