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RAA Negotiations Update – December 2012

Over many months of negotiations, ICANN and the Registrars have made significant progress in negotiating the 12 recommendations from law enforcement authorities on improvements to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement. At ICANN's October 2012 meeting in Toronto, the negotiation teams described the agreements in principle on 11 of the 12 key law enforcement-recommended improvements, including the establishment of an abuse point of contact at each registrar; enhanced requirements to maintain updated information with ICANN; and robust data retention requirements. The documents posted in advance of the Toronto meeting also reflect the progress made with respect to the amendment topics proposed by the GNSO and ALAC. On one of the more complex items within the negotiations – the institution of validation and verification requirements on Whois data submitted by registrants – much progress has been made towards outlining an initial Whois verification process. However, a fundamental area of difference still remains between ICANN and the registrars, and agreement in principle has not been reached on this remaining topic.

ICANN and the registrars have jointly initiated work on the development of a strawman for a Proxy/Privacy Service Provider Accreditation Program. The working team hosted a session on this topic at ICANN's Public Meeting in Toronto to start soliciting community input into what such a program should encompass.

While much progress has been made on the recommendations provided by law enforcement, the GNSO and the ALAC, additional items remain for ICANN and the registrars to discuss. Both ICANN and the registrars have additional proposed changes which have not yet been negotiated. As previously discussed, it has been ICANN's position that the negotiations on key topics within the law enforcement recommendations need to come to resolution prior to concluding negotiations on these additional areas.

In Toronto, ICANN's new President and CEO, Fadi Chehadé, announced to the community that the changes to the RAA are one of his top priorities, and assured the community of his focus on this work. While in Toronto, an ambitious schedule was set out for the completion of the RAA negotiations, including the posting of a proposed RAA for public comment before the end of 2012. Since the Toronto meeting, the President and CEO has been working closely with ICANN staff to gain a deeper understanding of the RAA negotiation topics. The substantial amount of work spent on the Trademark Clearinghouse for the New gTLD Program as well as the organizational work to meet the operational excellence goals has pushed the RAA negotiations into December.  While the registrars and ICANN explored potential dates for negotiation in December 2012, both sides have agreed that between holidays, difficult travel schedules and the ICANN Prioritization Draw for New gTLDs, a December meeting is not feasible. Therefore, negotiations will resume in January 2013, and the anticipated date for publication of a draft RAA for community comment will be announced in January as well. ICANN thanks the registrars for their continued engagement in this negotiation process.

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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"""" is not an IDN."