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Second Annual IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process Review

Comment/Reply Periods (*) Important Information Links
Comment Open: 9 April 2012
Comment Close: 30 April 2012
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Public Comment Announcement
Reply Open: 1 May 2012 To Submit Your Comments (Forum Closed)
Reply Close: 21 May 2012 View Comments Submitted
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Report of Public Comments
Brief Overview
Originating Organization: ICANN
Categories/Tags: Top-Level Domains
Purpose (Brief): ICANN is now opening a public comment forum for the second annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process. Community members and specifically those who were directly involved in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, including requesters, public authorities, and end users of the delegated IDN ccTLDs, are kindly asked to provide feedback on their experience in the process.
Current Status: The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process completed its second year of operation in November 2011. The Final Implementation Plan for the Fast Track approved by the ICANN Board requires that the process undergo review annually.
Next Steps: Following completion of the second public comment, ICANN will compile community feedback and publish a summary and analysis of the comments received. Recommendations for changes to the Final Implementation Plan for the Fast Track Process will be publicly posted and presented to the ICANN Board at its next available meeting following the conclusion of the comment period. The ICANN Board will consider next steps, including which of the proposed changes should be implemented, and if additional community discussion is required.
Staff Contact: Naela Sarras Email: naela.sarras@icann.org
Detailed Information
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

To help initiate the discussion, ICANN staff has listed the following topics as ones that can benefit from further discussion. It should be noted that all aspects of the Fast Track Process are under review, so the raising of all related subjects is welcomed.

String Similarity:

The evaluation of string similarity continues to be a topic of discussion in the ICANN community. The final Integrated Issues Report published by the IDN Variant Issues Project recommended string similarity as an area where further work is needed. Another recent publication from SSAC, SAC052 report pointed out that further review and modifications of the String Similarity Review processes are clearly required to reduce ambiguity and increase consistency in the process.

As described in the Final Implementation Plan for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, the DNS Stability Panel reviews strings for confusability with existing ISO-3166-1 two-letter codes, TLDs, other TLDs requested in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, and applied-for strings in the new gTLD Process. The panel has successfully completed the assessment of string similarity for 46 strings to date.

ICANN is committed to upholding the community's directive to not delegate confusingly similar strings. In addition to fulfilling the processes identified in the Final Implementation Plan, we ask community members, specifically those who were directly involved in the Fast Track Process, to provide us with feedback on how we may increase the predictability.

Viability of an Appeal Process:

Currently, there is no appeal procedure in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, because it was assumed the process was developed for a limited number of non-contentious IDN ccTLDs associated with the ISO 3166-1 two-letter codes.

Should the community determine that an appeal process is required for the Fast Track Process, it will become necessary to articulate the structure and specifics of such a process, taking into account the overarching principles of transparency and accountability of the evaluation process, maintaining the security and stability of the DNS, and respecting the specific requirement proposed by the IDNC WG that the evaluation process is confidential.

IDN Tables:

The topic of IDN tables was considered in the initial Fast Track Review, and no change was made. On the broader subject of treatment of IDN tables, the first annual review recommended that the role and effect of IDN tables be redirected to other areas of work such as Variant IDN TLDs Project.

Such feedback from the community about IDN tables, as well as discussions in last year's work on the Variant Issues Project resulted in commencing work on an Internet Draft, which specifies a universal IDN table format based on XML. The intention for this format is one that can fully express the spectrum of IDN table rulesets that are known to be in deployment, such as those used in the CJK and Arabic script communities. It is expected this effort will improve the utility of the contributed tables, as well as potentially provide mechanisms by which tables may be used or adapted for use in the root zone, based on the outcome of the other streams of variant work. More information on this will be available to the community through regular updates on the IDN Variant Project.

Review Period:

Currently, the Fast Track Process Final Implementation Plan requires that the process undergo review annually. Given that the volume of requests in the IDN Fast Track Process is expected to be at a smaller rate than when it was first launched, ICANN staff propose the review period be changed from annually to biannually or an as-needed basis.

Proposed Changes to the Final Implementation Plan for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Processes Document:

In the course of last year, staff flagged a number of non-material changes that needed to be made in the Final Implementation Plan for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process document. This includes formatting changes, fixing a few typographical and grammatical mistakes, replacing out of date URLs, revising the table of contents, and updating the process flow charts in Appendix 1 to Module 5. The update to the flow charts was necessary to clarify the Fast Track process using proper flow chart methodology. The proposed changes are included and tracked in a document linked in Section III of the Pubic Forum.

Section II: Background

ICANN conducted its first annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process and its implementation from October 2010 to January 2011. A summary and analysis was published in February 2011 and the Board acknowledged the Fast Track review at the San Francisco ICANN meeting, in March 2011.

Community input provided in the first annual review resulted in several public sessions and the formation of a sub-group within ccNSO PDP Working Group 1. This sub-group was tasked by the ccNSO to provide guidance and clarifications on the interpretation of the rules for handling cases of string similarity in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process. Although the work of the sub-group still continues, a specific recommendation was proposed during the Dakar ICANN meeting in October 2011, and the ccNSO adopted a resolution recommending that the ICANN Board approve an amendment to the Fast Track Implementation Plan in order to provide further guidance for a specific case of string similarity. On 8 December 2011, the ICANN Board of Directors approved the amendment to the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process Implementation Plan, and ICANN provided a notice of publication for the Revised Implementation Plan.

Section III: Document and Resource Links
Proposed changes [PDF, 3.35 MB] to the Final Implementation Plan for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process document.
Section IV: Additional Information

Process Statistics as of the date of this posting:

  • The IDN ccTLD Fast Track String Evaluation Request System has been up and running uninterrupted since its launch in November 2009.
  • ICANN has received a total of 37 requests from unique countries and territories.
  • A total of 29 countries and territories’ requests have successfully passed through the String Evaluation phase. Of these, 21 countries and territories (represented by 31 IDN ccTLDs) were delegated in the DNS root zone; with the remainder either preparing to apply or engaged in the delegation process.
  • The requests received represent 23 languages and 15 scripts.
  • The details of the strings that have passed the String Evaluation phase can be viewed here: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/string-evaluation-completion-en.htm
  • Up-to-date numbers concerning the IDN Fast Track Program will continue to be provided at the ICANN Dashboard on Performance Metrics at: https://charts.icann.org/public/index-idn.html
  • From a financial perspective, the process was intended to cover costs by a recommended and pre-arranged processing fee of 26,000 USD per string, and those that are unable to pay may contact ICANN for a fee waiver. Of the total amount invoiced, 184,000 USD has been received to date.

(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.

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."