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ICANN POLICY UPDATE | Issue 5 - July 2008

The ICANN Policy Update is posted on ICANN's website and available via online subscription. If you would like to receive these updates in your inbox each month, go to and select "Policy Update" to subscribe.

Below are brief summaries of issues that are being addressed by the ICANN community's bottom-up policy development structure, as well as other significant activities of interest. This latest monthly update is provided by ICANN's Policy Staff in response to community requests for periodic summaries of ICANN's policy work. Links to additional information are included below and we encourage you to go beyond these brief Staff summaries and learn more about the ICANN community's work. Our goal is to maximize transparency and broad community participation in ICANN's policy development activities. Comments and suggestions on how we can improve these efforts are most welcome and should be sent to


Recent Developments: On 26 June 2008, the ICANN Board approved all of the GNSO Improvement Report's recommendations, except for the recommendation on GNSO Council restructuring. The Board also requested that the GNSO convene a small working group on council restructuring and provide for the Board's consideration a consensus recommendation by 25 July 2008.

Next Steps: The public comment period on the Council's top-level GNO Improvements implementation plan is scheduled to close on 17 July 2008. A small working group on GNSO Council restructuring has convened and expects to continue with its work. Consistent with its Resolution, Board consideration of the future structure of the GNSO Council is expected to be resolved no later than at its 28 August 2008 meeting.

Background: The ICANN Board has approved a comprehensive set of recommendations to improve the structure and operations of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). This effort is part of ICANN's own ongoing commitment to evolve and improve, and follows an independent review of the GNSO by the London School of Economics and others, as well as extensive public consultation.

A working group of the ICANN Board Governance Committee (BGC WG) developed and presented these recommendations in a GNSO Improvements Report that includes ways to improve the effectiveness of the GNSO's policy development activities, structure, operations and communications. At the February 2008 Board meeting in New Delhi, the Board accepted the Report for consideration, and directed ICANN Staff to post it for public comment, draft a detailed implementation plan in consultation with the GNSO, begin implementation of the non-contentious recommendations, and then return to the Board and community for further consideration.

The GNSO Council subsequently formed a GNSO Improvement Planning Team (Planning Team), comprised of GNSO leadership, constituency representatives, ICANN Staff and a Board liaison participant, in order to develop a top-level implementation plan to organize and manage the implementation effort. On 19 May 2008, the Planning Team produced a draft version of the GNSO Improvements Top Level Plan. The plan focuses on the creation of two standing committees, GNSO Process and GNSO Operations, which would be responsible for ensuring that the work of implementing BGC WG recommendations is carried out.

More Information

Staff Contact: Rob Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


Recent Developments: The ICANN Board approved the GNSO Council recommendation to curb abuse of the "add grace period" (AGP) for domain tasting, and also approved the draft budget for FY 2008-09, which includes language to curb domain tasting. Prior to Board approval, Staff prepared an initial "Implementation Advisory" on modifications to the AGP, which examined each component of the GNSO Council recommendation and identified particular implementation steps that should be considered to put the recommendation and the FY 09 Budget Plan in place.

Next Steps: Staff will be developing a detailed implementation plan for community review.

Background: The term "domain name tasting" refers to a situation where an entity registers a domain name and then tests to see if the name has sufficient traffic to generate more income than the annual registration fee, usually through the addition of pay-per-click advertising. If the address is deemed sufficiently profitable, it is kept. If not, the current "add grace period" (AGP), that allows domains to be returned within five days without cost, is used to return the domain at no net cost to the registrant and no ICANN charge levied on the registrar. The practice is controversial because registrants who engage in it are able to temporarily register hundreds of thousands of domain names, with these temporary registrations far exceeding the number of domain names actually licensed.

Over time, there has been a significant increase in the number of domains registered and returned prior to expiration of the AGP. A significant number of community members feel the AGP process presents a loophole that facilitates this conduct. On 17 April 2008, the GNSO Council by supermajority vote approved a recommendation that would prohibit any gTLD operator that has implemented an AGP from offering a refund for any domain name deleted during the AGP that exceeds 10% of its net new registrations in that month, or fifty domain names, whichever is greater. Under the terms of the motion, an exemption from the limitation could be sought for a particular month, upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances detailed in the motion.

In addition, the provision that had been included previously in the ICANN draft budget for FY 2009 (applying the ICANN USD .20 annual fee to all new registrations) was modified to reflect the same threshold included in the GNSO Council recommendation. This new language would apply the annual ICANN fee only to those registrations that exceed the maximum of (i) 10% of that registrar's net new registrations in that month (defined as total new registrations less domains deleted during AGP), or (ii) fifty (50) domain names, whichever is greater.

More Information

Staff Contact: Liz Gasster, Senior Policy Counselor


Recent Developments: During the June 2008 Paris meeting, the GNSO Council voted to reconvene a group to review the study recommendations offered through the public comment period and the studies requested by the GAC and, based on those recommendations and the GAC request, prepare a concise list of hypotheses. The group has six (6) weeks to deliver this to the Council for consideration.

Next Steps: Following submission of the list of hypotheses to the Council, the Council will then decide whether any potential studies should be further considered, and if so, identify hypotheses that it would like the Staff to determine cost, feasibility, potential methodology, and estimated time frames for testing.

Background: WHOIS services provide public access to data on registered domain names, data that currently includes contact information for Registered Name Holders. The extent of registration data collected at the time a domain name is registered, and the ways such data can be accessed, are specified in agreements established by ICANN for domain names registered in generic top-level domains (gTLDs). For example, ICANN requires accredited registrars to collect and provide free public access to (1) the name of the registered domain name and its name servers and registrar, (2) the date the domain was created and when its registration expires, and (3) the contact information for the Registered Name Holder including the technical contact, and the registrant's administrative contact.

WHOIS has been the subject of intense policy development debate and action over the last few years. Information contained in WHOIS is used for a wide variety of purposes. Some uses of WHOIS data are viewed as constructive and beneficial. For example, sometimes WHOIS data is used to track down and identify registrants who may be posting illegal content or engaging in phishing scams. Other uses of WHOIS are viewed as potentially negative, such as harvesting WHOIS contact information to send unwanted spam or fraudulent email solicitations. Privacy advocates have also been concerned about the privacy implications of unrestricted access to personal contact information.

The GNSO Council decided in October 2007 that a comprehensive, objective and quantifiable understanding of key factual issues regarding WHOIS would benefit future GNSO policy development efforts, and plans to ask the ICANN Staff to conduct several studies for this purpose. Before defining the details of these studies, the Council solicited suggestions for specific topics of study on WHOIS from community stakeholders, with possible areas of study including a study of certain aspects of gTLD registrants and registrations, a study of certain uses and misuses of WHOIS data, a study of the use of proxy registration services, including privacy services, and a comparative study of gTLD and ccTLD WHOIS. A public comment forum was opened through 15 February 2008, in order to solicit suggestions for specific topics of study on WHOIS. Approximately 25 suggestions were received, and a summary of comments was prepared.

On 27 March 2008, the GNSO Council convened a group of volunteers to do the following : (1) review and discuss the Report on Public Suggestions on Further Studies of WHOIS; (2) develop a proposed list of recommended studies, if any, for which ICANN Staff would be asked to provide cost estimates to the Council; and (3) produce the list of recommendations with supporting rationale.

On 22 May 2008, the WHOIS study group delivered its report to the Council. In addition to considering the recommendations solicited from the public, the group also considered recommendations offered by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for WHOIS studies. The report reflected two opposing viewpoints among participants. A significant number of participants believe that no further studies should be conducted because further study (and the resulting information) would be unlikely to persuade any stakeholders to modify existing strongly held positions. The second group of participants believe further studies would be useful in informing the debate, and their comments include specific recommendations for further study in three primary areas: 1) the availability of privacy services; 2) the demand and motivation for the use of privacy services; and 3) certain studies of WHOIS misuse, detailed further in the report.

More Information

Staff Contact: Liz Gasster, Senior Policy Counselor


Recent Developments: A GNSO drafting group addressing the first set of transfer denial reasons (called "Transfer PDP 1") reported on its findings to the GNSO Council. The Council resolved on 25 June 2008 to post the proposals for transfer denial reasons #8 and #9 for public comments, while deferring denial reasons #5 and #7 to be handled in a future transfer policy development process (PDP) (see explanations below). The Council also decided to launch the new PDP on "New IRTP Issues" (aka "Set A" described below).

Next Steps: Following the public comment period regarding Transfer PDP 1, the Council will decide on whether to forward the two proposed texts as a Council Recommendation to the ICANN Board for modification of the IRTP provisions. Regarding the New IRTP Issues - Set A, a charter for a new working group is being developed and will be considered at the next GNSO Council meeting on 17 July 2008.

Background: Consistent with ICANN's obligation to promote and encourage robust competition in the domain name space, the Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy aims to provide a straightforward procedure for domain name holders to transfer their names from one ICANN-accredited registrar to another should they wish to do so. The policy also provides standardized requirements for registrar handling of such transfer requests from domain name holders. The policy is an existing community consensus that was implemented in late 2004 and is now being reviewed by the GNSO. As part of that effort, the GNSO Council formed a Transfers Working Group (TWG) to examine and recommend possible areas for improvements in the existing transfer policy. The TWG identified a broad list of over 20 potential areas for clarification and improvement.

The IRTP performs a critical function but the specific terms of the policy can be arcane and the work to clarify them complex. In an effort to deal with that complexity while moving to get clarifications and improvements on-line as soon as possible, the Council initiated a policy development process (Transfer PDP 1) to immediately examine four specific issues from the broader list that addressed reasons for which a registrar of record may deny a request to transfer a domain name to a new registrar. The IRTP currently enumerates nine (9) specific reasons why a registrar can deny a transfer. Those issues identified as needing clarification included the following:

  • "No payment for previous registration period" (Denial Reason #5);
  • "A domain was already in "lock" status" (Denial Reason #7);
  • The domain was in the first 60 days of an initial registration period (Denial Reason #8); and
  • A domain name is within 60 days of being transferred (Denial Reason #9)

ICANN Staff finalized and posted an Initial Report for public comment as part of this PDP and used public comments received to compile a Final Report for the Council's consideration on further steps to take. At the GNSO Council meeting on 17 April 2008, a drafting group was launched to develop suggested text modifications for the four transfer denial reasons.

Parallel to the PDP process, the Council tasked a short term planning group to evaluate and prioritize the remaining 19 policy issues identified by the Transfers Working Group. In March 2008, the group delivered a report to the Council that suggested combining the consideration of related issues into five new PDPs. On 8 May 2008, the Council adopted the structuring of five additional inter-registrar transfers PDPs as suggested by the planning group (in addition to the ongoing Transfer PDP 1 on the four reasons for denying a transfer). The five new PDPs will be addressed in a largely consecutive manner, with the possibility of overlap as resources permit.

The Council requested an Issues Report from Staff on the first of the new PDP issue sets (Set A – New IRTP Issues), which has since been delivered to the Council. The three "new" issues in Set A address (1) the potential exchange of registrant email information between registrars, (2) the potential for including new forms of electronic authentication to verify transfer requests and avoid "spoofing", and (3) to consider whether the IRTP should include provisions for "partial bulk transfers" between registrars.

More Information


Recent Developments: At its 25 June 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council initiated a fast flux policy development process and appointed a fast flux working group chair and Council liaison.

Next Steps: With assistance from Staff, a template for constituency statements is due 40 days after the Working Group is initiated (5 August 2008), and constituency statements are then due 30 days after the template is released (no later than 4 September 2008). A Final Report will be submitted to the GNSO Council and posted for public comment at 90 days (target – 25 September 2008).

The Working Group's Final Report will discuss these questions and the range of possible answers developed by its members. The Report also will outline potential next steps for Council deliberation. These next steps may include further work items for the Working Group or policy recommendation for constituency and community review and comment, and for Council deliberation.

Background: Fast flux hosting is a term that refers to several techniques used by cybercriminals to evade detection in which the criminals rapidly modify IP addresses and/or name servers. The ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) recently completed a study of fast flux hosting. The results of the study were published in January 2008 in the SSAC Advisory on Fast Flux Hosting and DNS (SAC 025). Because fast flux hosting involves many different players — the cybercriminals and their victims, ISPs, companies that provide web hosting services, and DNS registries and registrars — it is possible to imagine a variety of different approaches to mitigation. Most of these will require the cooperation of a variety of actors, and some will be outside of ICANN's scope.

On 26 March 2008, Staff posted an Issues Report on fast flux hosting, as directed by the GNSO Council. In the Report, Staff recommends that the GNSO sponsor additional fact-finding and research to develop best practices concerning fast flux hosting. Staff also notes that it may be appropriate for the ccNSO to participate in such an activity.

At its 8 May 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council formally launched a policy development process (PDP), rejected a task force approach and called for creation of a working group on fast flux. Subsequently, at its 29 May 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council approved a working group charter to consider the following questions:

  • Who benefits from fast flux, and who is harmed?
  • Who would benefit from cessation of the practice and who would be harmed?
  • Are registry operators involved, or could they be, in fast flux hosting activities? If so, how?
  • Are registrars involved in fast flux hosting activities? If so, how?
  • How are registrants affected by fast flux hosting?
  • How are Internet users affected by fast flux hosting?
  • What technical (e.g. changes to the way in which DNS updates operate) and policy (e.g. changes to registry/registrar agreements or rules governing permissible registrant behavior) measures could be implemented by registries and registrars to mitigate the negative effects of fast flux?
  • What would be the impact (positive or negative) of establishing limitations, guidelines, or restrictions on registrants, registrars and/or registries with respect to practices that enable or facilitate fast flux hosting?
  • What would be the impact of these limitations, guidelines, or restrictions to product and service innovation?
  • What are some of the best practices available with regard to protection from fast flux?

The group also will obtain expert opinion, as appropriate, on which areas of fast flux are in scope and out of scope for GNSO policy making.

More Information

Staff Contact: Liz Gasster, Senior Policy Counselor


Recent Developments: At its 8 May 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council approved a motion to create a drafting team to consider questions such as the following:

  • How is the [domain name front running] problem defined?
  • How prevalent is the problem?
  • Will the measures relating to domain tasting affect front running?
  • Are there rules within the RAA that can be used to address this activity?

The goal of the drafting team was to bring a recommendation to the Council on whether to request an Issues Report or a more extensive research effort that could help to define the terms of reference for further work. Subsequently, on 29 May 2008, ICANN Staff recommended that more information be obtained about other research activities that may be contemplated or underway (such as possible research by the SSAC and by ICANN) before proceeding with work by this drafting team. At the GNSO Council meeting on 25 June 2008, the Council accepted this recommendation and voted to put the drafting team effort on hold until current research efforts are completed.

At its June 2008 meeting in Paris, the ccNSO Council asked the ccNSO Secretariat to produce a high–level overview on front-running to allow further ccNSO discussion.

Next Steps: The GNSO Council may consider further work once current research efforts are completed, and the ccNSO Council will consider the Staff overview and related material.

Background: Domain name front running is the practice whereby a domain name registrar uses insider information to register domains for the purpose of re-selling them or earning revenue via ads placed on the domain's landing page. This practice is also sometimes referred to as domain reservation or cart-hold or cart-reserve. By registering the domains, the registrar locks out other potential registrars from selling the domain to a customer. The registrar typically uses the 5-day add grace period (AGP), during which the domain can be locked without permanent payment.

On 27 March 2008, after being alerted to the issue by (1) industry input, (2) a Security and Stability Advisory Committee report, and (3) a letter from the At-Large Advisory Committee to the ICANN Board requesting emergency action, the Chair of the ICANN Board referred the matter to the GNSO Council for additional information gathering and policy development, if necessary.

More Information

Staff Contact: Liz Gasster, Senior Policy Counselor, GNSO, and Gabriella Schittek, ccNSO Secretariat


Recent Developments: The working group on IDN country code top level domains (IDNC WG) concluded its work and submitted to the ICANN Board a final report on feasible methods for timely (fast-track) introduction of a limited number of IDN ccTLDs associated with ISO 3166-1 two-letter codes while an overall, long-term IDN ccTLD policy is under development by the ccNSO. At the June 2008 Paris meeting, the Board directed Staff to: (1) post the IDNC WG final report for public comments; (2) commence work on implementation issues in consultation with relevant stakeholders; and (3) submit a detailed implementation report, including a list of any outstanding issues, to the Board in advance of the November 2008 ICANN Cairo meeting.

Next Steps: The IDNC WG Final Report has been posted for public comments. Staff will begin work on implementation issues in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Background: The potential introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of the Internet. IDNs offer many potential new opportunities and benefits for Internet users of all languages around the world by allowing them to establish domains in their native languages and alphabets.

An IDN ccTLD (internationalized domain name country code top level domain) is a country code top-level domain (corresponding to a country, territory, or other geographic location as associated with the ISO 3166-1 two-letter codes) with a label that contains at least one character that is not a standard Latin letter (A through Z), a hyphen, or one of the standard numerical digits (0 through 9). The technical potential for ICANN to now make these domain names available for assignment is prompting significant discussion, study and demand within the ICANN community – particularly for territories and communities who want to make use of non-Latin characters. Current efforts are taking place on two fronts: (1) efforts to identify a "fast track" process to provide new domain opportunities to territories with immediate justifiable needs; and (2) efforts to develop a comprehensive long term plan that ensures a stable process for all interested stakeholders.

The joint IDNC WG was chartered by ICANN's Board to develop and report on feasible methods, if any, that would enable the introduction of a limited number of non-contentious IDN ccTLDs, in a timely manner that ensures the continued security and stability of the Internet while a comprehensive long-term IDN ccTLD policy is being developed. On 1 February 2008, the IDNC WG posted a Discussion Draft of the Initial Report (DDIR) for public comment and input from the ICANN community. The DDIR clarified the relationship between the "fast track" process and the broader long-term ccNSO Policy Development Process on IDN ccTLDs (IDNccPDP), and also identified the mechanisms for the selection of an IDN ccTLD and an IDN ccTLD manager. The ccNSO Council determined that those mechanisms were to be developed within the following parameters:

  • The overarching requirement to preserve the security and stability of the DNS Compliance with the IDNA protocols;
  • Input and advice from the technical community with respect to the implementation of IDNs; and
  • Current practices for the delegation of ccTLDs, which include the current IANA practices.

On 13 June 2008, the IDNC WG published a draft Final Report for discussion by the IDNC WG and the broader community. At the June 2008 Paris ICANN meeting, several workshops and meetings were conducted to discuss the draft Final Report, resulting in several revisions and the work necessary to enable the WG to submit its final report to the ICANN Board.

In parallel to considerations of a "fast track" approach, the ccNSO Council initiated a comprehensive long-term policy development process for IDNccTLDs (referred to as the IDNcc PDP). The ccNSO Council formally requested an Issues Report on 19 December 2007 and directed ICANN Staff to identify policies, procedures, and/or by-laws that should be reviewed and, as necessary revised, in connection with the development and implementation of any IDN ccTLD policy – including efforts designed to address the proposed fast-track concept. According to the ICANN bylaws, the creation of the Issue Report is the second step in launching the IDN ccPDP. The final step is the decision of the ccNSO Council to initiate the ccPDP.

The GNSO and several other parties submitted comments regarding a proposed IDNcc PDP. The Issues Report was submitted to the ccNSO Council and is the basis for the Council's ongoing IDNcc PDP discussions.

More Information

Staff Contact: Bart Boswinkel, Senior Policy Advisor, ccNSO


Recent Developments: ICANN Staff is soliciting input from Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees.

Next Steps: Input will be summarized and reported to the Board for consideration.

Background: An ICANN Board resolution in 2000 directed Staff to assign countries to geographic regions on the basis of the United Nations Statistics Division's current classifications, and introduced the concept of "citizenship" in relation to the definition of ICANN Geographic Regions. The ICANN Geographical Regions were originally created to ensure regional diversity in the composition of the ICANN Board and were subsequently expanded in various ways to apply to the GNSO, ALAC and ccNSO.

The ICANN Bylaws define five geographic regions as Africa, North America, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia/Australia/Pacific and Europe -- and also expand the concept that "persons from an area that is not a country should be grouped together with the country of citizenship for that area" so that the area or territory itself was similarly allocated to the region of the "mother country."

Over time, the ccNSO has developed concerns about the Geographic Regions and related representational issues. The ccNSO Council passed a resolution recommending that the ICANN Board appoint a community-wide working group to further study and review the issues related to the definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions, to consult with all stakeholders and submit proposals to the Board to resolve the issues relating to the current definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions.

The ICANN Board determined that because any change to ICANN Geographic Regions could have widespread effect in ICANN, the views of other Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees should be sought by the Board. The Board asked the ICANN community, including the GNSO, ccNSO, ASO, GAC, and ALAC, to provide the ICANN Staff with input on the ccNSO Council's resolution relating to ICANN's Geographic Regions.

More Information

Staff Contact: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


Recent Developments: At its June 2008 meeting in Paris, the ccNSO Council adopted new administrative procedures that include:

  • Guidelines for ccNSO Council meetings;
  • Guidelines for ccNSO general meetings;
  • Setting-up Working Groups and templates to assist drafting of charters;
  • Guidelines for Selection of Board seats 11 and 12, and election of ccNSO Council members by the ccNSO; and
  • Guidelines for liaisons and observers from other ICANN related entities.

Next Steps: The Processes WG will continue its work on a few more guidelines, including one to improve the participation of ccTLDs in ICANN's yearly strategic and operational planning processes.

Background: The ccNSO Council has initiated efforts to improve its work plans, administrative procedures and communications tools. As a result of a Council workshop held at the ICANN New Delhi meeting earlier this year, a working group of the Council was established to propose administrative procedures for the ccNSO. The Council also approved the creation of a new "authoritative" ccTLD managers email list. At the time of the Paris meeting, 95 ccTLD managers had subscribed. Subscription is open to ccTLD managers and any persons they designate to be on the list.

In addition, the ccNSO has been conducting a participation survey to understand better why ccTLDs do or do not participate in ccNSO meetings. The results of the survey were presented at the ccNSO meeting and will be published on the ICANN website. The Participation WG, in close cooperation with ICANN's Regional Liaisons, developed a leaflet on participation in both the ccNSO and Regional organizations. The leaflet was presented at the ICANN meeting in Paris last month.

More Information

Staff Contacts: Bart Boswinkel, Senior Policy Advisor, ccNSO and Gabriella Schittek, ccNSO Secretariat


Recent Developments: Last month in Paris, At-Large concluded a highly productive series of meetings. Highlights include:

  • Discussions on IDNs and new GTLDs at the ALAC's first meeting with the GAC;
  • Discussions on IDNs, New GTLDs, GNSO Improvements and future cooperative efforts at the ALAC's first meeting with the GNSO Council;
  • Discussions on Fast Track IDNs and Geographic Regions with the ccNSO Council;
  • The first meeting of the General Assembly of the European Regional At-Large Organisation (EURALO) (Regional At-Large Organizations – RALOs -- are the federations of At-Large user groups at the regional level);
  • Finalization of a statement to the ICANN Board on elements of the GNSO's New gTLD Policy Report;
  • Discussions in the At-Large community on how to create a structured, repeatable, bottom-up process for the development of ALAC policy statements to the Board;
  • Continued preparatory work on the At-Large Summit;
  • A well-attended and received workshop on the migration from IPv4 to IPv6;
  • Concentrated work and initial comments on the draft At-Large Review at two public sessions.

More Information:

Staff Contact Nick Ashton-Hart, Director for At-Large


Recent Developments: The ICANN Board approved funding for the At-Large Summit at its meeting in Paris last month. The Summit proposed by the At-Large community will bring together one representative from each of the worldwide community of Internet end-user groups participating in ICANN At-Large. The Summit is tentatively scheduled to be held in conjunction with the 2009 ICANN meeting in Mexico City.

More Information

Staff Contact: Nick Ashton-Hart, Director for At-Large


Recent Developments: The At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) Chair, Cheryl Langdon-Orr, opened the nominations for ALAC's ICANN Board Liaison position for the term that will commence at the close of the Cairo ICANN Meeting, in November 2008. The candidates include the incumbent, Wendy Seltzer, and Beau Brendler of Consumer Reports. Members of the At-Large community will have a teleconference with the candidates prior to the vote.

An election also will be held in July 2008 for a vacant European seat on the ALAC.

A third of the members of ALAC will be up for election in advance of the Cairo ICANN meeting as part of the staggered election cycles adopted by the RALOs in 2006 and 2007.

Staff Contact: Nick Ashton-Hart, Director for At-Large


Recent Developments - Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs): ASNs are addresses used in addition to IP addresses for Internet routing. A new global policy proposal for ASNs would formalize the current procedure for allocation of ASNs and provides a policy basis for the transition from 2-byte (16 bits) to 4-byte (32 bits) ASNs. The final transition step is now foreseen for 31 December 2009, after which date the distinction between 2- and 4-byte ASNs will cease and all ASNs will be regarded as of 4-byte length, by appending initial zeroes to those of 2-byte original length. The policy proposal has been adopted by all RIRs and the final text submitted from the NRO Executive Committee to the ASO Address Council (ASO AC). The proposal was forwarded to the ICANN Board for ratification on 13 June 2008.

Next Steps: The global policy proposal for ASNs has been posted for public comments on the ICANN website. Following the outcome of the public comments, the ICANN Board will decide on ratification of the policy within a 60-day period from the date of submission.

Recent Developments - Remaining IPv4 Address Space: The IANA pool of unallocated IPv4 address blocks continues to be depleted. As previously announced, a new global policy has been proposed to allocate the remaining address blocks once a given threshold is triggered. The text of the proposed policy essentially recommends that when there are five /8 blocks remaining in the IANA pool, one remaining block will be allocated to each RIR. The proposal has been discussed at all the RIR meetings (APNIC, ARIN, RIPE, LACNIC and AfriNIC) during the last four (4) months. The proposal has been adopted within ARIN and is in discussion within the other RIRs, where it has reached consensus within AfriNIC and LACNIC.

Next Steps: Discussions within RIPE and APNIC are not conclusive regarding the level of support for the proposal at this stage and may not be so until the next RIPE and APNIC meetings later in 2008.

More information:

Staff Contact: Olof Nordling, Director Services Relations


Recent Developments: SSAC continues to survey the availability of DNSSEC features amongst commercial, open source, and publicly available name server software releases. A public notice web page (SAC030) announcing the survey has been published. The set of survey questions were sent to approximately 40 software vendors and developers. SSAC has received survey responses from about 40% of the vendors and products surveyed. The majority of responses come from commercial vendors. Soliciting survey responses from the Open Source community has been more difficult. The initial set of responses is now published and contains responses from most major commercial DNS vendors. The initial results are encouraging –60% of products support DNSSEC core standards and have conducted interoperability testing. Tabularized results are online at

Next Steps: SSAC will continue to collect information related to DNSSEC deployment status and intends to provide a more comprehensive report at the Cairo ICANN meeting.

More Information

Staff Contact: Dave Piscitello, Senior Security Technologist


Recent Developments: The term phishing has been used to describe criminal and fraudulent attempts by bad actors to acquire sensitive private information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as trustworthy entities in an electronic communication. SSAC has been addressing this matter through several activities.

Following a one-month opportunity offered to the Registrar community to review and comment, SAC028, Registrar Impersonation in Phishing Attacks, was published on 26 May 2008. The document was well received by the Internet Policy Committee's Anti Phishing Working Group (APWG), which hopes to factor some of SAC028's findings into the fast flux issues identification work being done for the GNSO.

ICANN Staff has also reviewed a new APWG report, Global Phishing Survey: Domain Name Use and Trends in 2007, that surveys and analyzes data related to phishing attacks during 2007. Of particular interest is the report's analysis of phishing distribution across ccTLDs and a rise in the use of subdomains for phishing attacks. This report and a second report presented at the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) provide valuable insight into the spam and phishing "hot spots." Using spam data collected since 2005 the HTCIA report concludes that 90% of illegal web sites are hosted at domains registered through just 20 registrars.

SSAC has concluded an initial study of a practice wherein a DNS operator may return a different DNS response message in response to a non-existent domain name error from the one that would reflect content the domain registrant intended to publish in its zone file. Two variants of this practice are described in SAC032, Preliminary Advisory on DNS Response Modification (June 2008).

Parties to whom the registrant entrusts to host its zone file use the first variant, where the entrusted party creates a wild card resource record that resolves any name the registrant did not explicitly include in his zone file to an IP address of the entrusted party's choosing (typically a revenue generating or advertising page). The second variant is implemented by any operator of an iterative name server that processes a client's DNS query of a name in a domain. The operator intercepts and rewrites "name error" DNS responses so that the response signals "name exists" rather than the error the domain registrant intended to return. The DNS response from such an operator also redirects the client to an IP address of the DNS operator's choosing. Both variants create several troubling security and operational stability issues for domain registrants, and also create opportunities for phishing attacks.

More Information

Staff Contact: Dave Piscitello, Senior Security Technologist

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."