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Administrator of Domain Name System Launches Global Multistakeholder Accountability Process

Press Briefing Scheduled with Board Chair and CEO

Los Angeles, California… The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today launched a process to transition the role of the United States Government relating to the Internet's unique identifiers system.

ICANN's announcement comes on the heels of an historic announcement today by the U.S. Government stating that it is ready to transfer its stewardship of the important Internet technical functions to the global Internet community. The U.S. Government's current responsibilities to be transitioned include the procedural role of administering changes to the Domain Name System's (DNS) to the authoritative root zone file - the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – as well as serving as the historic steward of the unique identifiers registries for Domain names, IP addresses, and protocol parameters.

In doing so, the U.S. recognized ICANN's maturation in becoming an effective multistakeholder organization and requested that ICANN convene the global community to develop the transition process from of the U.S. stewardship to a global community consensus-driven mechanism.

"We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process," said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN's President and CEO. "All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners."

Independent of the U.S. transition, the roles of the Internet technical organizations, including ICANN's role as administrator of the Internet's unique identifier system, remain unchanged. The Internet's Unique Identifier functions are not apparent to most Internet users, but they play a critical role in maintaining a single, global, unified and interoperable Internet.

"Even though ICANN will continue to perform these vital technical functions, the U.S. has long envisioned the day when stewardship over them would be transitioned to the global community," said Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, ICANN's Board Chair. "In other words, we have all long known the destination. Now it is up to our global stakeholder community to determine the best route to get us there."

"The global multistakeholder process is defined by inclusion, and it will take some time to make sure that we obtain all of the necessary inputs," said Chehadé. "By the time the current contract with the U.S. Government expires in September 2015, we will have a defined and clear process for global multistakeholder stewardship of ICANN's performance of these technical functions."

The first community-wide dialogue about the development of the transitional process will begin March 23-27 during ICANN's 49th Public Meeting, in Singapore. All global stakeholders are welcome to participate in person or remotely.

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To see more about the IANA Functions survey go here: http://www.icann.org/en/news/press/releases/release-15jan14-en

Press Briefing

Note: Because of the historic nature of this announcement, ICANN Board Chair Dr. Stephen D. Crocker and ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé will make themselves available to answer journalists' questions during a 1-hour press briefing. Details are:

Date/Time: Friday, 14 March 2014 at 11PM UTC / 7PM U.S. EDT

Telephone Access Numbers: International access numbers may be obtained here - www.adigo.com/icann. Once you have reached the conferencing center, dial 25594#.

Journalist Questions: Because there are likely to be many journalists joining this briefing, upon calling in, your line will be muted. If you have a question, please hit #3 and tell the conference operator the following:

  • Your name.
  • Your news organization.
  • The city and country from which you are calling.
  • The conference operator will notify the moderator, who will then introduce you.
    • Your line will be unmuted and you may ask your question.
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."