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Speech by Dr Paul Twomey | President and CEO, ICANN | Plenary of the World Summit for the Information Society | Geneva, Switzerland

Your Excellency President
Your Excellencies, Heads of States and Governments
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to such a distinguished audience at an historical Summit. I am the President and CEO of ICANN, the organization that is responsible for the coordination of the Internet's domain name system. This public-private partnership based on a NGO model designed to encapsulate the mechanism by which the Internet functions. It has responsibility for the coordination of the management of Internet's system of unique identifiers including Internet Protocols (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. Its structure reflects the global Internet community (governments, the technical community, registries, the business community, academia and non-commercial communities and representatives of consumer interests) working together to promote the stability and integrity of the Internet.

We are very committed to achieving the Secretary General's goals for the Information Society, and his objectives for the Summit. We are pleased with the level of knowledge about the Internet that this Summit has generated. And we are pleased with the Summit's call for a Working Group under the guidance of the Secretary General to further discuss and define these important issues. We think that the fully inclusive nature of such an approach, involving governments, the private sector, civil society and international governmental organisations and International organisations reflects the general partnership approach which has helped build the Internet over the past 35 years. We look forward to sharing our experiences and learning from the perspectives of others as part of these discussions.

The Information Society is everyone's future - partly thanks to the Internet and its rapid development. Why do we have an Internet today? Because the technical community, academia, and governments started something and private sector (business, civil society, investments) academia, governments, technical community, kept building it.

In following the WSIS process, and discussions to date, many issues have been raised. These issues fall within four general layers - these being socio-cultural, economic and development, jurisdictional and legal, and technical coordination.

We do not stand in the way of governments and others feeling that they want to establish a mechanism to discuss issues in the area. And our experience suggests that equal participation of all sectors is essential to any discussions surrounding any Internet issues.

The impacts of the limited technical functions ICANN helps coordinate and manage have different aspects in different parts of the world. As someone from the Asia Pacific I am very conscious that the Internet and its surrounding issues look different according to where one sits. ICANN looks forward to further discussing and learning from both its global and regional governmental, private sector, technical and civil society partners. As the Internet continues to evolve we are committed to continuing to evolve. We must take both a global and a local perspective. As part of our commitment to this vision, ICANN is expanding its physical office presence over the next six months to having offices in all the regions of the world. And our virtual global presence will be increasingly multi-lingual.

As we discuss the issues of Internet governance and of the need to keep growing the Information Society, let us also be conscious of what we have built in the technical field and how well it does work. The bottom-up, inclusive model for technical coordination - built over the last 35 years - involves tens of thousands of practitioners on a daily basis. Their results are impressive:
On a global level, there are an estimated 55 million domain names that are registered. The Regional Internet Registries and ICANN, working together, have allocated approximately 313 million IP v4 addresses since 1999. And some experts think there is sufficient spare IP v4 address space for allocation to meet demand for another 20 years or so. Further, the new generation of IP v6 addresses contains 3.4 by 1038 addresses. Many billions for every person alive today. Approximately an IP address for each atom of the known Universe.

Every day 750 millions users use the Internet to achieve approximately 18 billion resolutions per day. That is more than five times the number of phone calls in the North America per day. The system works. It works in the same way for all users of the Internet.

Let us build on it for the benefit of all.

Thank you.

Please note: Video archives of the Plenary can be found at the WSIS website.

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."