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Press Release: Governments Endorse Private Sector Internet

For Immediate Release

(Singapore, March 2, 1999) -- A powerful group of governments today endorsed the establishment of the private-sector model for the technical administration of the Internet. In a critical milestone for the establishment of the new market-led technical management structure, nearly 20 national governments from around the world reinforced the need for market-led solutions to the fast-moving evolution of the Internet. Their actions confirmed the principles first put in motion by the United States government in July 1998.

Until late 1998, the Internet's technical administration was performed by or on behalf of the United States government.

The Governmental Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) concluded its inaugural meeting today by endorsing the principles behind the creation of ICANN and committing themselves to play a constructive role in support of its processes.

The national governments were joined by representatives of key multilateral governmental organizations and treaty organizations, including the European Commission, the International Telecommunications Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

"Today represented a significant milestone in the establishment of ICANN," said Australia's Dr. Paul Twomey, the Chairman of the Governmental Advisory Committee. "We saw a broad cross-section of the community of nations express strong support for the idea that the Internet is best managed by the Internet community itself."

The meeting was attended by representatives of 17 nations, including Argentina, Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu, United States. Germany's representative also attended today's meeting on behalf of the President of the European Union.

Dr. Twomey stated, "The governments and organisations attending today's meeting represent the vast majority of Internet users. They also reflected some of the most innovative policy approaches to the use of the Internet."

For example, Tuvalu has recently made Internet history by entering a lucrative commercial arrangement for the marketing of its .tv country code top level domain (ccTLD).

The discussions in Singapore covered a broad range of issues, including matters of structure and organisation, as well as significant policy issues such as the administration of ccTLDs.

The Governmental Advisory Committee is not a decision-making intergovernmental organization, but a forum for providing advice to ICANN. Under ICANN's Bylaws, the ICANN Board may refer matters to the Governmental Advisory Committee, or the Governmental Advisory Committee may raise issues and make recommendations on its own initiative.

A website for the Governmental Advisory Committee has been established, which can be accessed through the ICANN Homepage (http://www.icann.org).

About ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a new, non-profit, international corporation formed to oversee a select number of the Internet's core technical management functions. Between now and September 2000, ICANN is slated to gradually take over responsibility for coordinating domain name system management, IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment coordination, and root server system management.

In the past, many of these functions have been handled by the U.S. government, or by its contractors and volunteers. This informal structure represented the spirit and culture of the research community in which the Internet developed. However, the growing size and international importance of the Internet has necessitated the creation of a technical management body that is both more formalized in structure, and more fully reflective of the geographic diversity of the Internet community.

ICANN is a non-profit corporation with an international board of directors. Its initial board is led by interim chairman Esther Dyson, and has members drawn from several nations. This initial board is finalizing ICANN's by-laws and procedures and working to pave the way for a smooth and stable transition from the present administrative system. The initial board members will be replaced by board members elected by four different constituency groups, collectively representing a broad range of the Internet's technical and user communities around the globe.

For more information, please contact:

Andrew McLaughlin
ICANN
mclaughlin@icann.org

Patricia Ratulangi
Ogilvy Public Relations
patricia.ratulangi@ogilvy.com


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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."