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ICANN Launches WHOIS Website Beta

Following through on community recommendations for improving accountability and transparency, ICANN has launched the first phase of a new "one-stop" online resource about the WHOIS directory service. This new information website provides a clear and easy-to-understand explanation of how to access existing WHOIS information on who has registered domain names. It also makes it easy to notify relevant parties of a data accuracy issue.

Members of the community are invited to view the beta site and provide comments via feedback forms. ICANN staff and the design team will consider all comments and suggestions as we continually improve the site.

Previously, it was difficult to get a holistic understanding of WHOIS as information was highly distributed over many different websites. This new website,, will be a centralized location for all WHOIS information, making it easier to learn about WHOIS, raise accuracy issues about WHOIS information and how to contribute to WHOIS policies. ICANN expects to launch an integrated search function in January 2014 as part of the site's second phase.

The WHOIS directory service is an essential tool used by many people and organizations every day. Anyone who needs to know who is behind a website, domain name can look it up via WHOIS directory information. Network administrators, registry operators, domain name registrants, governments, law enforcement, consumer groups, and the international Internet community find it crucial.

In addition to identifying domain name holders, WHOIS data also allows network administrators and others to find and fix system problems and to maintain Internet stability. With it, they can determine the availability of domain names, combat spam or fraud, identify trademark infringement and enhance accountability of domain name registrants. WHOIS data is sometimes used to track down and identify registrants who may be posting illegal content or engaging in phishing scams.

The Affirmation of Commitments requires ICANN to "maintain timely, unrestricted and public access to accurate and complete WHOIS information...." It also calls for a review of WHOIS policy and its implementation every three years to assess its effectiveness in meeting legitimate needs of law enforcement and promoting consumer trust. This new website is the result of recommendations made by the last review panel.

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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"""" is not an IDN."