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Roadmap to Implement SAC 051

As requested by the ICANN Board, ICANN is publishing the updated Roadmap [PDF, 218 KB] for the coordination of the technical and policy discussions necessary to implement the recommendations outlined in SAC 051. There are two main recommendations in SAC 051: 1) improve Whois terminology to enhance and disambiguate the discussion; and 2) replace the Whois protocol to address various technical issues (e.g., internationalization). This Roadmap is the second version of the document, which was revised to include input from the community. The Roadmap will be submitted to the ICANN Board for its consideration.

Created in the 1980s, Whois began as a service used by Internet operators to identify individuals or entities responsible for the operation of a network resource on the Internet. The Whois service has since evolved into a tool used for many purposes. However, as usage of Whois service evolved, few changes have been made to the protocol that supports the service. As a result, there is growing concern that the protocol would not meet the need of the community.

Beginning in 2002, ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) published various advisories describing deficiencies related to the WHOIS protocol, service and data schema, most recently SAC 051: SSAC Report on Domain Name WHOIS Terminology and Structure [PDF, 243 KB]. SAC 051 summarizes the previous advisories, and among other things, recommends that the ICANN community evaluate and adopt a replacement protocol.

Recognizing its concerns with the WHOIS protocol deficiencies, on 28 October 2011, the ICANN Board approved a resolution directing staff to produce, in consultation with the community, a roadmap for the coordination of the technical and policy discussions necessary to implement the recommendations outlined in SAC 051.

On 18 February 2012, ICANN published a draft Roadmap to implement SAC 051 for public comment. Most commentators agreed with the approach proposed in the draft roadmap to replace the WHOIS protocol (SSAC recommendations 2 & 3). Given the general consensus on the proposed roadmap, it was deemed not necessary to open a second round of public comment. Instead, this updated Roadmap to implement SAC 051 is being published.

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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"""" is not an IDN."