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ICANN AT-LARGE Membership Registration Exceeds 158,000 Internet Users Worldwide

July 31, 2000 - Marina del Rey, CA -- The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced today that it had ended its first At-Large Membership registration period with more than 158,000 Internet users signed up worldwide. The registration period extended from February 25 - July 31. The ICANN At-Large members will select five members to the Board of Directors in October.

ICANN's At-Large Membership program is intended as a means for Internet users from all over the globe to have a voice in ICANN's technical policymaking structure for the Internet's domain name and numbering systems.

During planning in 1999 and 2000 for the At-Large elections, many members of the Internet community expressed concern that few people would be interested enough in ICANN's technical coordination functions and domain name policy issues to apply to become At-Large members. The projection adopted by the Board in November 1999, called for at least 5,000 members before the election process could continue. Since the At-Large member signup system began operations in late February 2000, the registration numbers have far surpassed all expectations, reaching more than thirty times the original estimate.

Unfortunately, this success has not come without its costs. The overwhelming number of registrations produced significant logistical and financial problems for a system that was established and intended to deal with fewer than 10,000 registrations. Despite several system upgrades and a variety of other changes, the registration system could not keep up with the demand, and many who tried to register were not able to do so near the end of the registration period. This is regrettable; ICANN believes that At-Large membership should be open to all who are interested in joining. Unfortunately, any postponement of the registration deadline would have made it impossible to complete the elections this year, and the Board concluded that the continued implementation of the ICANN structure -- including the addition of At-Large representatives to ICANN's Board of Directors -- should move forward on schedule.

"This is only the beginning," said ICANN Chairman Esther Dyson. We're delighted at the level of participation, though somewhat dismayed at the competitive atmosphere that sometimes emerged and the over-hyped expectations of ICANN's role. Now the task is to move on to the next stage of the elections: finding good candidates both from ICANN's Nominating Committee and among individuals nominated by the At-Large members. We hope these candidates will engage in lively and constructive debate about ICANN's activities and specific policies as it carries out its mission of supporting the Internet's growth as an open, robust and reliable medium for communications and commerce."

ICANN's Nominating Committee is scheduled to announce its set of nominees for this year's election tomorrow, August 1. At-Large members who have activated their membership will be eligible to cast a vote for one At-Large member of the ICANN Board of Directors - one for each of five geographic regions - in an all-electronic election that will be held for ten days commencing October 1, 2000. Following registration, At-Large applicants will receive a postal letter containing a personal identification number (PIN), and must visit the At-Large website to activate their membership and become eligible to vote. To date, approximately 40% of those who have received their PIN letters have actually activated their membership.

Preliminary total registration numbers by region are:

Africa - 787
Asia/Australia/Pacific - 93,782
Europe - 35,942
Latin America/Caribbean - 6,486
North America - 21,596

Following the October election, ICANN will conduct a thorough study of the ICANN At-Large membership program. The study, to be completed by mid-2001, will evaluate the At-Large experience to date, including the registration process just completed and the unanticipated level of interest shown, as well as the actual experience of the initial At-Large election processes. The results of the study will guide the ICANN Board in establishing a permanent direction for the At-Large membership.

"Even though it is clear that some of those who registered were prompted to do so by outreach efforts that significantly overstated the scope and significance of ICANN's technical functions related to the domain name system, members of the ICANN Board and staff are gratified to see that there are a considerable number of Internet users who are willing to take the time and make the effort to participate in the ICANN process," said ICANN President and CEO Mike Roberts.

ABOUT ICANN

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.


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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."