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ICANN Requests DPA Guidance on Proposed Interim Model for GDPR Compliance

LOS ANGELES – 28 March 2018 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") has requested European data protection authorities (DPAs) provide specific guidance on the organization's Proposed Interim Compliance Model [PDF, 922 KB] as it relates to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In letters to each of the 28 European member states' DPAs and the European Data Protection Supervisor, ICANN asks the authorities to "help ICANN and the domain name registries and registrars to maintain the global WHOIS in its current form, through either clarification of the GDPR, a moratorium on enforcement or other relevant actions, until a revised WHOIS policy that balances these critical public interest perspectives may be developed and implemented."

Absent this specific guidance, the integrity of the global WHOIS system and the organization's ability to enforce WHOIS requirements after the GDPR becomes effective will be threatened.

ICANN is concerned that continued ambiguity on the application of the GDPR to the global WHOIS may result in many domain name registries and registrars choosing not to publish or collect WHOIS out of fear that they will be subject to significant fines following actions brought against them by the European DPAs. ICANN has set out that its 2,500 domain name registries and registrars need clear guidance and a moratorium so that they will not have enforcement actions brought against them while they implement changes to comply with the GDPR.

At the same time, governments world-wide, law enforcement authorities, and those fighting abuse on the Internet are deeply concerned that blocked access to the global WHOIS may significantly harm the public interest, by blocking access to critical information which allow them to enforce other laws and protect consumers, critical infrastructure and intellectual property rights.

More information on ICANN's data protection/privacy activities is available here.

About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.


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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."