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Revised .com/.net/.org Agreements Forwarded to Commerce Department

16 April 2001 (Marina del Rey, California, USA). The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today forwarded to the US Department of Commerce (DOC) final copies of proposed revisions to the agreement with VeriSign, Inc. under which VeriSign operates the .com, .net and .org registries. The Memorandum of Understanding between the DOC and ICANN requires that any revisions to the VeriSign agreement during its initial term must be ratified by the DOC.

The revised agreements would significantly restructure the contractual relationship between ICANN and the operator of the world's largest domain name registries. In summary, they will:

  • largely normalize the relationship between ICANN and VeriSign, operator of the most important name registries in the Domain Name System;
  • eliminate most of the vestiges of special treatment of VeriSign resulting from its legacy activities;
  • commit VeriSign to participate equitably and without special limitations in the financial support of ICANN's activities;
  • separate the single legacy registry agreement covering the three registries now operated by VeriSign into three separate registry agreements, thus allowing the Internet community, through the ICANN process, to decide on the operator for each registry individually and not as a group, as required under the 1999 agreement;
  • require VeriSign to give up control over the .org registry by the end of 2002; and
  • provide for a competitive process in 2005 to determine the future operator of .net.

The new agreements were approved by ICANN's Board of Directors on 2 April 2001, subject to final legal documentation. The agreements submitted today to DOC include significant changes from the original agreements as the direct result of comments received from many members of the Internet community, including ICANN's Names Council and its member constituencies.

ICANN's President and CEO M. Stuart Lynn said, "It is in the interests of all Internet users—commercial and private, businesses and individuals—that ICANN continue to develop and mature as a vehicle for consensus policy development. These new agreements, by eliminating much of the unique legacy treatment of VeriSign/NSI, will be a major step in that direction. They will help to maintain the continuing stability of the DNS as an important and effective part of the Internet, and will improve the ability of ICANN to serve as an effective administrator of this important resource."

For more information on the ICANN/VeriSign registry agreements, see

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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."