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Becoming UA-Ready – ICANN Update

Learn Best Practices to Increase Internet Inclusivity and Diversity Through UA

The Domain Name System (DNS) is more inclusive and diverse than ever before with top-level domain (TLD) names in different languages and scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, as well as those longer than the traditional two or three letters/characters. While users can now better represent their identities online and navigate the Internet in the language of their choice, many applications and online systems have not kept up with the changing DNS and they do not recognize or process all new domain names or associated email addresses.

Universal Acceptance (UA) is the best practice that ensures all Internet-enabled applications, devices and systems accept all domain names and email addresses regardless of the chosen language/script or character length. Without fully achieving UA, users with valid credentials are prevented from fully experiencing the Internet, which results in frustrating and inconsistent experiences while limiting the ability for organizations to connect with their global users.

To further UA and benefit the Internet community, ICANN's Chief Information Officer, along with the Front Office Relationship & Delivery and Software Engineering groups, have been working diligently to make ICANN's systems fully UA-ready. Today, we're pleased to announce that we've updated our internal and custom services to be UA-ready, where possible. In some instances, we are limited from having full UA functionality due to certain services being provided by a third-party product; however, we are working with such vendors to have them update their services, with a focus on those that directly impact the community.

In order to broadly share best practices and key learnings with other organizations, we developed a case study with the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG), which includes a UA project initiation guideline and goes in-depth on the following three stages of UA-readiness.

Three Stages of Achieving Universal Acceptance

Three Stages of Achieving Universal Acceptance

  • Stage 1: Establish support for new short and long ASCII-based TLDs.
  • Stage 2: Establish support for Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) TLDs in Unicode or Punycode.
  • Stage 3: Establish support for Email Address Internationalization (EAI).

In an increasingly connected world, achieving UA is key to reducing every organization's "technical debt," supporting the next billion Internet users, promoting competition and customer choice, as well as improving access. To read the full ICANN case study and learn more about the three stages of achieving UA, click here.


    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."