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Letter from Martin Boyle to Vinton Cerf

Department of Trade and Industry
Enterprise & Business Group
BPR 238
151 Buckingham Palace Road

9 May 2006
Dr Vinton Cerf
4676 Admiralty Way Suite 330
Marina del Rey
California 90292-6601

Dear Vint,

Approval of the domain name

The discussions held by the Governmental Advisory Committee in Wellington in March have highlighted some of the key concerns, and strong opposition by some administrations, to the application for a new top-level domain for pornographic content, I thought it would be helpful if I would follow up those discussions by submitting directly to the ICANN Board the views of the UK Government. In preparing these views, we have consulted a number of stakeholders in the UK, including Internet safety groups such as the Internet Watch Foundation and the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety.

Having examined the proposal in detail, and recognising ICANN's authority to grant such domain names, the UK expresses its firm view that if the domain name is to be authorised, it would be important that ICANN ensures that the benefits and safeguards proposed by the registry, ICM, including the monitoring all content and rating of content on all servers pointed to by, are genuinely achieved from day one. Furthermore, it will be important for the integrity of ICANN's position as final approving authority for the domain name, to be seen as able to intervene promptly and effectively if for any reason failure on the part of ICM in any of these fundamental safeguards becomes apparent. It would also in our view be essential that ICM liaise with the relevant bodies in charge of policing illegal Internet content at national level, such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in the UK, so as to ensure the effectiveness of the solutions it proposes to avoid the further propagation of illegal content. Specifically, ICM should undertake to monitor all content as it proposed and cooperate closely with IWF and equivalent agencies.

This is an important decision that the ICANN Board has to take and whatever you decide will probably attract criticism from one quarter or another. This makes it all the more important that in making a decision, you reach a clear view on the extent to which the benefits which ICM claim are likely to be sustainable and reliable.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Boyle
UK Representative to GAC

cc Paul Twomey, CEO ICANN
Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, Chairman GAC

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."