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Frequently Asked Questions: Universal Acceptance

ICANN's Role
Get Involved
Universal Acceptance Main Page


What is Universal Acceptance?

Universal Acceptance (UA) is the concept of removing all technical barriers that might hinder a user from accessing any name in any TLD from any web browser, email client, or other Internet application on any computer or electronic device.

Why is it important?

The Internet is now critical to the way we live our lives and everyone should be able to freely use it without any technical barrier being in the way.

What is a TLD?

"TLD" stands for top-level domain, a portion of the Internet naming structure. Globally recognized and unique identifiers such as email addresses and web site names "belong" inside a TLD.

What is an IDN TLD?

An IDN TLD is a internationalized domain name top-level domain. This refers to the TLD name being in a non-ASCII script, that is, it uses characters other than the Latin alphabet. The addition of IDN TLDs permit people to make use of names in many more languages than could be achieved in the original set of TLDs.

Why is UA an issue?

Users are experiencing "bugs" when trying to use many TLDs in their browsers, email and other applications. This contributes to a "chicken-or-the-egg" problem. Users don't exhibit enough interest to get bugs fixed because the bugs prevent users from becoming interested, and vice versa. As a result, this is not just a "bug" for users, it is a "bug" for all working to expand the Internet.

Operators of TLDs, especially IDN TLDs, are seeing unnaturally limited demand for names in these zones. This dampens enthusiasm for investment in the growth of the Internet.

What is happening at the end-user level?

Bugs appear in a few ways.

One bug prevents someone from using an email address because the software doesn't believe the name is legitimate. The bug may be simply omitting the TLD from a list or it may be an interactive rejection of a name as not valid.

Another bug is the failure to convert from a user's written (typed) input into the internal formats used on the Internet and conversely to display identifiers in the users' script. The underlying format is in ASCII, to avoid obsoleting older systems but this format need never be presented to the user.

In certain instances, browsers are not recognizing and rendering the new gTLDs in the correct script, such as a Chinese language address displayed as a seemingly random list of letters and figures.

Email addresses written in non-English letters aren't being accepted as well.

Who is affected by Universal Acceptance?

Internet service consumers needing or wanting to make use of identifiers in TLDs that experience technical faults are affected by lack of Universal Acceptance. Notably, but not exclusively, this includes people whose written language is not based on ASCII. A secondary effect is on providers who would benefit by accepting and offering these identifiers, the effect being via lowered demand.

What is Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG)?

The creation of a Steering Group to guide the identification of topline issues and proposed solutions, as well as the creation and dissemination of best practices and general outreach information about Universal Acceptance.

This is a project that will take years to make progress on; the Steering Group should be a standing group whose membership may fluctuate over the years. ICANN should be prepared for the Steering Group to drive action over the course of the next 10 years and group leadership terms and structure to be re-evaluated every two years.


ICANN's Role

Why is ICANN involved in Universal Acceptance?

The community ICANN serves has goals of achieving a means to have unique identifiers support the real world communications of the global population. Besides covering the written languages this includes other innovative ways in using identifiers such as domain names and email addresses.

What does ICANN think should happen?

We call for the cooperation of invested parties to ensure that all the new TLDs are available to all that would use them.

What is ICANN's role in UASG?

ICANN's role is that of coordinator, catalyst, supporter, advocate and manager of the work streams. Staff should project manage and publish outcomes, and provide budget as appropriate to support the initiative. They should also act as a Secretariat for the UA Initiative.


Get Involved

Where do I direct questions regarding Universal Acceptance?

To submit questions or contribute additional material that may be helpful in further work on this, please email to:

Visit our main page for more detailed information on Universal Acceptance.


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."