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Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance - Process and Next Steps

ICANN today published Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance - Process and Next Steps, a document that describes the process to examine how, from an organizational perspective, ICANN's accountability mechanisms should be strengthened to address the absence of its historical relationship with the US Government including looking at strengthening existing accountability mechanisms. On 14 March 2014, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to transition its stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the global stakeholder community, which would end its contractual relationship with ICANN that has existed since 1998. That historical relationship has been perceived as a backstop with regard to ICANN's organization-wide accountability.

Last spring, when the community began its initial discussions on the task of transitioning NTIA's stewardship of the IANA Functions, the community raised the broader topic of the impact of the change on ICANN's accountability. What emerged was a commitment to launch a second process – parallel but interrelated with the IANA stewardship transition process – to do this work.

During an extended public comment period from the beginning of May to the end of June, we received 49 comments, with a majority discussing the more substantive aspects of accountability, while some focused on the design of the review process itself.

We took those comments relating to the development of the process, along with those from the community dialogues at the ICANN 50 meeting in London, and developed the accountability review process published today. The comments provided on issues for consideration for enhancements to ICANN accountability, or proposed solutions, are provided in a separate document for consideration by the community groups performing the work on Enhancing ICANN accountability.

An important attribute of the IANA Stewardship Transition process and this ICANN Accountability & Governance Review process is that the work of each completes in time to meet the expectations of the IANA Functions Contract ending in September 2015.

The Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance Process and Next Steps document can be found here [PDF, 131 KB].

An infographic providing a visual display of the proposed process can be found here [PDF, 926 KB].

A Summary Report of Public Comments received on the proposed process can be found here [PDF, 414 KB].

Comments provided on issues for consideration for enhancements to ICANN accountability are found here [PDF, 69 KB], on proposed solutions here [PDF, 132 KB] and all public comments received can be found here.


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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."