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Special Interest Forums on Technology (SIFT)

Welcome to ICANN's new online discussion platform, called Special Interest Forums on Technology (SIFT).

This platform provides an ad hoc forum for the ICANN community and organization (org) to engage in technical discussions and review contributions by interested technical participants on emerging technologies and trends related to the Internet's identifier system. This includes domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS), IP addresses, autonomous system numbers, and various protocol parameter assignments.

The overall goals of a SIFT are:

  • Promote knowledge sharing between participants on the evolution of Internet identifier technologies
  • Provide fact-based presentations to ICANN staff, leadership, and ICANN community on newly-emerging topics and technologies that are relevant to ICANN's mission


SIFT membership is open to anyone interested in topics related to the internet unique identifiers technologies. Participants may include:

  • ICANN community
  • ICANN Board members
  • ICANN org staff
  • Technical experts with interest in SIFT topics.

ICANN's Technical Engagement team will provide logistic support to SIFT discussions as necessary and as appropriate.

How it Works

All topics will primarily be discussed on the main SIFT public mailing list ( When a topics gain enough momentum and interest whereby they require a more substantive and ongoing discussions, such topics may become their own dedicated SIFTs with a separate mailing list (e.g.,,, etc.). Each SIFT and mailing list (hosted by ICANN) will operate and organize voluntarily and independently of each other. ICANN will support open access to SIFT mailing list archives. SIFT participants will also be able to conduct ad hoc and informal meetings during ICANN events, if needed. Some topics discussed in various SIFTs may also be used as content for emerging identifiers sessions at ICANN public meetings.

ICANN org will provide necessary logistic support to SIFTs when and where needed (e.g., for teleconferences, public presentations, or in other venues and circumstances). We expect all participants on the mailing list to adhere to the ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior. This will ensure participation to remain open and professional. To learn more, please click here.

Choosing SIFT Topics

Any participants of the mailing list will be able to propose a topic for discussion either directly framed as specific question or work in cooperation with the ICANN org's support team, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) to frame their topic

The Scope of SIFTs

Participants in SIFT discussions have no unifying activities outside of planned meetings. SIFT discussions do not contribute to policy making or policy making discussions, although some SIFT members may also participate in these activities. SIFTs do not take positions for, or on behalf of, any component of the ICANN ecosystem.

The activities and work of each SIFT are open to the public.

SIFTs have no formal authority. The effectiveness of a SIFT discussion is limited by the quality of information shared by its members.

Wiki Page

The Wiki page, has drafts of its foundational documents. We invite you to subscribe to the general mailing list ( and join the conversation.

You may join the general discussion mailing list here.

Please visit the SIFT-dedicated wiki page for more information here.

Feel free to contact if you have any questions related to the launch of SIFT.


ICANN's mission is rooted in the core Internet identifier technologies, such as addresses, domain names, autonomous system numbers, among others, which enable the Internet to work. This requires the ICANN organization (org) and the community to regularly discuss and research technical issues that are relevant to the resiliency, security, and interoperability of the Internet. While work on standards development takes place at different venues and forums other than ICANN meetings, it is clear from the participation in ICANN's public engagements, the technical community would benefit from a platform within the ICANN ecosystem where it can openly discuss and engage on emerging technical topics related to the management of the Internet's Identifier system.

ICANN Strategic Goal (3.2b) calls for "Mechanisms [to be] established with which ICANN assesses new technologies and, when appropriate, embraces them." SIFT discussions constitute one of these mechanisms. They help monitor trends and inform the ICANN community on emerging technologies that may impact the security and stability of the Internet.

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."