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Call for Community Experts to Review the IDN Implementation Guidelines

1. Introduction

The IDN Implementation Guidelines address the IDN registration policies and practices, designed to minimize the risk of cybersquatting and consumer confusion, and respect the interests of communities using local languages and scripts. These Guidelines are for registry operators to implement IDNs at the second level. Registry operators that offer IDNs under the new gTLDs, resulting from the 2012 application round, are contractually bound to adhere to the Guidelines per Specification 6 of the Registry Agreement. The IDN ccTLDs are encouraged to follow the Guidelines through the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process, but are not contractually obligated to do so.

IDN Implementation Guidelines were last updated in 2011. ICANN is now initiating a revision of these guidelines and soliciting the participation of expert community volunteers to form a working group for this purpose. The working group will comprise of expert volunteer members from GNSO, ccNSO, SSAC and ALAC, as per the details below.

Interested experts should be endorsed by their respective SOs/ACs and should send their Resumes and Statements of Interest to IDNProgram@icann.org by 3 August, 2015.

2. Background

Historically, the IDN Implementation Guidelines have been updated when there was a change to relevant protocols or other demand from the community, but not on a regular basis. As there are contractual obligations associated with the Guidelines, updating them may have a significant impact. To date, there have been five versions of the Guidelines, available through the link: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/implementation-guidelines-2012-02-25-en. The current Version 3.0 was developed through a community based effort and finalized on 2 September 2011. This was endorsed by the ICANN Board of Directors on 28 October 2011.

Since publication of the latest version of the Guidelines in 2011, there have been changes in the terminology around IDNs and language tables (e.g. see Appendix 2 of Integrated Issues Report [PDF, 2.15 MB]), as well as a definition of the formal representation of the language tables to make them machine readable. Additional analysis and data are also available, including Maximal Starting Repertoire (MSR), informational RFC 6912 and revised IANA IDNA tables for Unicode 6.3.0. Finally there have been recommendations for consistency and manageability of variants across different levels in a domain name, e.g. in the User Experience Study [PDF, 1.38 MB] and related SSAC comments in SAC 60 [PDF, 655 KB] report.

Based on the experience with implementing IDNs accumulated since 2011, GNSO Council and its members have asked ICANN to update these guidelines.

3. Working Group Expertise and Composition

The working group members should have expertise in one or more of the following areas, as relevant for the second level.

  • DNS and IDNA protocols
  • IDN language or script tables, including variants and label level rules
  • IDN policy
  • IDN implementation
  • IDN label registration process and registration data
  • IDN related SSR issues, including string similarity
  • IDN usability challenges and universal acceptance

The working group is anticipated to have expertise in all these areas, with tentatively seven members: GNSO (3), ccNSO (2), SSAC (1) and ALAC (1). The number of GNSO and ccNSO members are based on membership during previous revisions of IDN Implementation Guidelines. SSAC and ALAC members are being added for additional consideration of SSR and usability issues.

4. Tentative Work Plan

The working group will determine its own work plan and deliverables, after its formation. The following are tentative steps and the timeline the working group may undertake to complete its work. The working group is expected to hold regular conference calls to undertake this work.

  • Formation – August 2015
  • Identification of relevant issues
  • Public comment on issues – ICANN 54
  • Finalization of issues
  • Development of initial recommendations against the issues identified
  • Public comment on Interim draft – ICANN 55
  • Finalization of recommendations
  • Development of complete draft
  • Public comment on complete draft– ICANN 56
  • Publication of updated IDN Implementation Guidelines – August 2016

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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."