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Public Comment: Roadmap to a New Domain Name Registration Data Access Protocol (WHOIS)

ICANN is pleased to announce the posting of the draft roadmap [PDF, 214 KB] to implement ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee's Report on Domain Name WHOIS Terminology and Structure (SAC 051). To make or view comments click here. The SSAC report specifically targets, among other things, the "internationalization" of the WHOIS protocol, reflecting concern about the inability of the current WHOIS protocol to consistently handle non-ASCII data. Additionally, SAC 051 recommends terminology to be used to clarify discussions where traditionally the terms Whois or WHOIS have been used.

This roadmap explores the coordination of the technical and policy discussions necessary to implement the recommendations outlined in SAC 051: SSAC Report on Domain Name WHOIS Terminology and Structure.

As requested by the Board resolution, ICANN posts this draft Roadmap for community consultation, requesting community input on the scope, timing, utility, challenges, and ways to overcome those challenges that should also be considered.

Staff will be conducting a public workshop on the draft roadmap [PDF, 214 KB] at ICANN's meeting in Costa Rica as an additional means of consulting with experts and the community. In order to allow extensive time for community dialogue and comment, it is envisioned to have two public comment periods allowing the draft Roadmap to evolve with the input received. Following that, the report will be finalized for Board and community action by the Prague ICANN meeting in June 2012.


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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."