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Cylab at Carnegie Mellon University Selected to Conduct Study of gTLD Whois Misuse

I am delighted to report that ICANN has engaged the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, CyLab to conduct a set of gTLD Whois Misuse Studies.

Working under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Nicolas Christin, this highly regarded cybercrime lab expects to spend approximately one year analyzing the extent, nature, and impact of harmful actions taken using Whois contact information. To accomplish this, the CMU team will survey gTLD domain Registrants about Whois misuse incidents they have experienced and use experiments to measure how well anti-harvesting measures reduce Whois misuse. Registries, Registrars, other cybercrime researchers, and law enforcement organizations will also be surveyed about reported cases of misuse.

These complementary studies are expected to provide the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council with the empirical data needed to assess community concerns about misused Whois contact information and inform any resulting policy changes. ICANN looks forward to working with CMU to apply their cybercrime expertise and experience to this challenging topic.

To learn more about Whois Misuse Studies or additional studies currently being considered by the GNSO, visit http://gnso.icann.org/issues/whois/.

To learn more about Dr. Christin and his work at the CMU CyLab, visit http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/nicolasc.

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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."