Skip to main content

Welcome to the new ICANN.org! Learn more, and send us your feedback. Dismiss

Resources

Universal Acceptance

Overview
Background
Universal Acceptance Timeline
Frequently Asked Questions
Get Involved
Useful Links

News

24 March 2015 – Universal Acceptance Steering Group Publishes Charter

The Universal Acceptance Steering Group Charter is now available for review. Learn about the UASG's mission, scope, goals and more.

10 February 2015 – Universal Acceptance Initiative Ramps Up at ICANN 52

Photo of Christian Dawson addressing ICANN Board during Public Forum

Christian Dawson addresses the ICANN Board: "The ICANN community should support the creation of a steering group to guide the identification of top line issues and propose solutions, as well as the creation and dissemination of best practices and general outreach information about Universal Acceptance."


Overview

In the earliest days of the Internet, the Domain Name System (DNS) contained a relatively small set of top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .net and .org. These were names in the ASCII character set containing three A-Z letters. Those available TLDs were later expanded to include two character Country Code TLDs (ccTLDs). In early 2001 top-level domain space grew to include names with more than three characters. In 2008 top-level domains outside the ASCII character set arrived (Chinese, Cyrillic, Arabic, etc [GC1] .) enabling a multi-lingual Internet. In 2013 the top-level domain name space began growing even more rapidly as new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) were delegated into the root zone.

Some internet services and software applications have not sufficiently evolved to properly recognize and consistently handle new gTLDs and Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), thus impeding the added benefits of user choice, user confidence and name space competition to the consumer. Software and service providers have historically been unaware of these problems or had little market or regulatory incentive to invest in solutions that would bring true interoperability to platforms or applications. A coordinated industry effort is underway to ensure a timely, practical, and continuing resolution to these changes.

Top

Background

Domain names in a TLD must be useable in applications regardless of the written script, length or newness of the TLD. The primary drivers for Universal Acceptance stem from the following elements:

  1. Longer TLD Names: TLDs with names longer than three characters, such as .museum or .plumber.

  2. Non-Latin based TLDs: TLDs with names written in scripts other than ASCII, such as Hindi, Japanese and Greek.

  3. Rapid addition of TLDs: The New gTLD Program spurring very rapid additions of new gTLDs delegated to the root zone.

  4. International Email: The introduction of non-ASCII names in email. While IDNs solved part of the ability to have non-ASCII names for servers, it doesn't solve the ability to have non-ASCII names for mailboxes.

Top

Universal Acceptance Timeline

Pre 2000

  • Assumptions born: User interfaces security rules were built according to "valid" TLDs including .com, .gov, .edu, the ISO 3122 two letter codes and ASCII only email addresses (mailbox names).

2000

  • Generic top-level domain (gTLD) expansion approved in 2000 and again in 2003 – broke assumptions about TLD validity in regard to name length.

2010

  • Addition of Internationalized Domain Name country code TLDs – broke assumption that TLDs must be ASCII.
  • Email names extended from ASCII to UTF-8 – broke assumptions about character encoding in email systems and viewers.
  • gTLD expansion approved in 2011; ICANN received 1,930 applications. October 2013 marked the beginning of hundreds of new gTLD delegations – broke assumption about "no/few" changes to Internet's root zone.

Universal Acceptance will be considered complete when any person can register and use a domain name in any top-level domain in widely distributed web browsers, email clients, mobile apps, and setting up online accounts for Internet and other services.

Top

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Top

Get Involved

Ask a question:

To submit questions or contribute additional material that may be helpful in overcoming these barriers, please send an email to customerservice@icann.org with "Universal Acceptance" in the subject line.

Join the discussion list:
https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/ua-discuss

Learn more on the wiki:
community.icann.org

Top

Useful Links

ICANN's Universal Acceptance Initiative Roadmap

Date Content
2014 September Roadmap
2014 August Report of Public Comments: Universal Acceptance of TLDs Draft Roadmap [PDF, 377 KB]
2014 June Public Comment: Universal Acceptance of TLDs Draft Roadmap

ICANN Presentations and Recordings

Date Event Content
2015 February ICANN 52 – Singapore Universal Acceptance Session Archive
2014 October ICANN 51 – Los Angeles Universal Acceptance Session Archive
2014 October APEC EAI Workshop Presentation [PDF, 805 KB]
2014 June ICANN 50 – London Universal Acceptance Session Archive ISPCP Presentation [PDF, 1.05 MB]
2014 June CENTR Jamboree 2014 Presentation [PDF, 685 KB]
2014 May APTLD Member Meeting on Universal Acceptance Presentation [PDF, 678 KB]
2014 March ICANN 49 – Singapore Universal Acceptance Session Archive
2014 Feb APRICOT 2014 Presentation [PDF, 3.20 MB]
2012 October ICANN 45 – Toronto Universal Acceptance of All TLDs Session Archive
2012 October Internationalization and Unicode Conference 36 Presentation [PDF, 2.82 MB]
2012 June ICANN 44 – Prague Universal Acceptance of All TLDs Presentation [PDF, 1.23 MB]
2012 June JIG IDN WG Meeting Presentation [PDF, 1.11 MB]
2012 May Registry/Registrar Meeting 2012 Presentation [PDF, 4.03 MB]
2012 March ICANN 43 – Costa Rica TLD Universal Acceptance Session Archive

Other ICANN Material

Date Content
Updated Continually IANA List of Top-Level Domains
Updated Continually IANA Reports on TLD (Re-) Assignments
2014 March Blog Post: The TLD Universal Acceptance Project
2013 June Announcement: JIG IDN WG Draft Final Report Announcement
2012 January Public Comment: Initial Report on Universal Acceptance of IDN TLDs
2007 March Announcement: ICANN Releases Beta-3 Version of TLD Verification Code
2006 December Announcement: ICANN Releases Beta TLD Verification Tool
2006 March Announcement: ICANN Creates Area on Universal Acceptance of TLDs
2004 December TLD-Acceptance Discussion Forum
2004 October Announcement: Universal Acceptance of all gTLD Names
2001 July Policy: ICP-3: A Unique, Authoritative Root for the DNS
2001 July Statement: Keeping the Internet A Reliable Global Public Resource: Response to New.net "Policy Paper"

Non-ICANN Resources

These reference links will lead you away from www.icann.org.

Date Source Content
2014 CTIC IDN Assessment Report 2014 [PDF, 1.01 MB]
2014 CITC Assessment of IDNA user experience [PDF, 4.62 MB]
2014 EurID World report on IDNs 2014 [PDF, 6.19 MB]
2014 March W3C W3C Mail thread on TLD Universal Acceptance
2014 February CircleID CircleID Post on TLD operator "use case"
2013 EURid World Report on IDN Deployment 2013 [PDF, 3.09 MB]
2012 EURid-UNESCO World report on IDN Deployment 2012 [PDF, 4.09 MB]
2004 February IETF RFC 3696: Checking and Transformation of Names
2002 October Internic FAQs: Why Universal Resolvability is Important
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."