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ICANN and Verisign Announce Start of 90-day Root Zone Management System "Parallel Testing" Period

As scheduled and previously communicated, on 6 April 2016, ICANN and Verisign began a 90-day “parallel testing” period to verify the continued integrity of the data contained in the root zone file produced via the Root Zone Management System (RZMS) following the successful completion of the IANA Stewardship Transition. This is a key step in ensuring the continued security and stability of the Internet’s root zone. The parallel testing period is part of the proposal that ICANN and Verisign submitted to NTIA in August 2015, at NTIA’s request, on how best to transition NTIA’s administrative role associated with root zone management to the global multistakeholder community in a manner that maintains the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS).

The parallel testing period will be used to confirm that the production RZMS and the parallel test version of the RZMS (that has had the NTIA authorization step removed) produces identical output for every root zone file published. During the parallel testing period, and until the successful completion of the IANA Stewardship Transition, the authoritative root zone file will continue to be produced by the production RZMS that contains the authorization step performed by NTIA.

The parallel testing period is scheduled to be conducted for a continuous 90-day period  and will be considered successful as long as no unexplained differences in root zone files are identified between the production RZMS and the parallel test RZMS. In the event that any unexplained differences are found the issue(s) will be addressed and the 90-day parallel testing period will be restarted.

Verisign will be publishing daily comparison reports throughout the testing period, which will be made available on their website. ICANN will also be publishing monthly reports, which can be found on ICANN’s Stewardship Implementation webpage.

The RZMS parallel testing period is part of ICANN’s broader implementation planning efforts in response to the anticipated IANA Stewardship Transition. On 14 March 2014, NTIA announced its intent to transition its stewardship of the IANA functions to the multistakeholder community. The Root Zone Administrator (RZA) role currently performed by NTIA will be eliminated upon the successful completion of the IANA Stewardship Transition, currently projected for September 2016.


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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."