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WHOIS 2015 Annual Report Highlights Recent Accomplishments

2015 was a banner year for ICANN in the area of WHOIS improvements. Today, ICANN published the 2015 Annual Report [PDF, 1.06 MB], which showcases those achievements and describes ICANN's progress against the recommendations from the 2012 Review Team. ICANN is also preparing for the next review team to be convened in late 2016.

Several important advances occurred in 2015 including:

Accuracy: The launch of the Accuracy Reporting System (ARS) brought greater transparency into WHOIS accuracy rates. ICANN converted a pilot project to an ongoing activity to improve accuracy of WHOIS. Expect to see recurring reports published in 2016 on syntactic and operational accuracy levels.

Privacy: The GNSO tackled the difficult topic of privacy and proxy services [PDF, 1.24 MB], and produced a comprehensive policy framework to support the creation of a new accreditation program for these services. If adopted, these policies prescribe minimum standards and service levels to benefit consumers of these services. The Board will consider these recommendations for adoption in 2016, as new consensus policies applicable to all gTLDs.

National laws on privacy play an important role in the transfer of personal data as it relates to WHOIS. The community made progress in its review to address the conflicts between national privacy laws and the triggers identified to invoke ICANN's national law conflict procedure. In 2016, the changes proposed by the Implementation Advisory Group (IAD) report will be considered for approval by the GNSO Council and ultimately, the Board.

Internationalization: The effort to internationalize WHOIS produced several important developments:

  • The conclusion of the Internationalized Registration Data (IRD) expert's group work to develop requirements for a data model to accommodate registration data in local languages or scripts
  • The GNSO concluded a policy development process (PDP) on translation and transliteration [PDF, 984 KB] (TnT) of contact data. This group produced a new policy to enable the voluntary translation and transliteration of WHOIS data. The ICANN Board adopted this new consensus policy.
  • The implementation of a new IETF Registry Data Access Protocol or "RDAP" as it is known, which is a standardized replacement for WHOIS. Work is underway to develop the RDAP Operational Profile for gTLD Registries and Registrars, which both IRD and TnT are dependent on.

While 2015 resulted in many improvements to WHOIS, work continues on a separate front; namely, determining whether to reinvent WHOIS and replace it with a next generation system. Work is actively underway at the GNSO to consider this issue. This long term project may lead to a comprehensive new policy framework to support the transition to a next generation system for registration directory services that better serves the Community's needs for accuracy and improved access, while at the same time, addressing data protection and privacy concerns.

For more details and updates on implementation progress, please look at the WHOIS quarterly implementation reports, or visit the AoC WHOIS Implementation Wiki where you can learn about planning for the second WHOIS Review Team to be convened.

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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."