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Press Release: ICANN Announces Changes, Requests DNS Transition Begin

LOS ANGELES, November 23, 1998 -- The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced several structural changes designed to ensure it will be open and responsive to the world's Internet communities. ICANN also called on the Commerce Department to begin negotiating the arrangements for the process of transitioning the Domain Name System administration and other technical functions currently performed under U.S. government contract.

"We believe we are now fully prepared to fulfill the mission identified in the White Paper -- to allow the management of Internet names, addresses and protocols to be administered by a new, international, not-for-profit corporation that will be transparent and fully accountable to the communities it serves," said Esther Dyson, ICANN's Interim Chairman, in a letter to J. Beckwith Burr, Acting Associate Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

[The full text of the letter follows.]

During the last month, ICANN's initial board and management has intensively sought comment and consultation regarding its bylaws. These have included discussions with interested organizations, government officials and individuals; participation in established Internet forums; comments posted to ICANN and other web sites; and the first in a worldwide series of open public meetings, held November 14 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The consultative process will continue as ICANN refines its organizational documents and policies. A second open meeting will take place in Brussels on Wednesday of this week.

Today's announcements relate to the development of ICANN's membership structure, increase the transparency of its operations and deliberations, enhance a procedure for independent review of decisions that may have been reached in violation of its bylaws, new provisions to prevent conflicts of interest and assure geographic diversity of the board, and other bylaw changes.

To help meet its commitment to becoming a membership organization, ICANN announced that it will form a volunteer advisory committee on membership to propose approaches to membership criteria, rights and responsibilities.

Transparency will be enhanced by holding an open public meeting in conjunction with each regular Board of Directors meeting. Besides soliciting input on policy issues then under consideration, members will publicly discuss their opinions among themselves and the public. About four such board meetings are planned annually, but subsets of the Board will make themselves available at other public meetings and events. The Board will vote by roll-call on important issues, and board meetings will be followed promptly by publication of complete minutes, including reports of votes taken, the positions of individual members on those votes, and their reasons for those positions.

ICANN will establish a mechanism for the reconsideration of decisions by independent third parties in cases where it is thought that ICANN or its staff has not followed its own bylaws or rules of procedure. As with membership implementation, ICANN will look to a voluntary advisory committee to develop proposals for public review and consideration.

ICANN also added to rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest and to assure geographic diversity. These and other more minor bylaw changes are detailed in the attached letter and on ICANN's web site,


    Esther Dyson, Interim Chairman,
    TODAY ONLY until 6 pm Eastern time +36 (1) 266-1234,
    OTHERWISE +1(212)924-8800,

    Michael M. Roberts, Interim President and CEO, +1(650)854-2108,

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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."