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ICANN Welcomes Positive Report from U.S. General Accounting Office

(July 7, 2000) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) welcomed today's release of a report by the United States General Accounting Office that confirms the legality and propriety of ICANN's formation and its relationship with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"After an exhaustive study and careful legal analysis, the GAO has concluded that ICANN's project partnership with the U.S. government rests on a strong and secure legal foundation," said ICANN President and CEO Mike Roberts. "We welcome its findings, which are consistent with the actions ICANN has taken over the past year and a half."

"It's nice to see some independent, authoritative validation of ICANN's sound legal footing," said Esther Dyson, chairman of ICANN's board of directors. "The challenge for all those involved in the ICANN process is to build on that foundation. ICANN is a platform for the Net's diverse communities fo work together to develop policies for themselves in a structure that is stable, open, transparent, and consensus-based."

The General Accounting Office is the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress.

Also today, ICANN released its second status report to the U.S. Department of Commerce, available on the ICANN website at
<>. The status report outlines ICANN's progress toward meeting the goals defined in the joint memorandum of understanding between the Department of Commerce and ICANN, and spells out the next steps to complete the transition to private-sector technical management of the Internet's naming and numbering systems.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a technical coordination body for the Internet. Created in October 1998 by a broad coalition of the Internet's business, technical, academic, and user communities, ICANN is assuming responsibility for a set of technical functions previously performed under U.S. government contract by IANA and other groups.

Specifically, ICANN coordinates the assignment of the following identifiers that must be globally unique for the Internet to function:

  • Internet domain names
  • IP address numbers
  • protocol parameter and port numbers

In addition, ICANN coordinates the stable operation of the Internet's root server system.

As a non-profit, private-sector corporation, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy through private-sector, bottom-up, consensus-based means. ICANN welcomes the participation of any interested Internet user, business, or organization. See

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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."