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Internationalized Domain Names Internal Working Group (of the Board)

(in Operation March-November 2001)


Since before 2000, efforts have been underway in the Internet community to make domain names available in character sets other than ASCII. These "internationalized domain name" (IDN) efforts were the subject of a 25 September 2000 resolution by the ICANN Board of Directors, in which it recognized "that it is important that the Internet evolve to be more accessible to those who do not use the ASCII character set," but stressed that "the internationalization of the Internet's domain name system must be accomplished through standards that are open, non-proprietary, and fully compatible with the Internet's existing end-to-end model and that preserve globally unique naming in a universally resolvable public name space."

Mission of the Internal Working Group

At the ICANN Board meeting on 13 March 2001, in Melbourne, Australia, the Board approved resolution 1.39, as follows:

"In order to promote better understanding of the technical and policy issues surrounding the internationalization of domain names, the Board designates an internal working groupt . . . to identify the various internationalization efforts and the issues they raise, to engage in dialogue with technical experts and other participants in these efforts, and to make appropriate recommendations to the Board."

Consistent with this resolution, the working group will engage in a fact-finding effort concerning three clusters of questions:

1) What are the perceived technical problems raised by internationalized domain names (IDN), what are the possible solutions, and what are the pros and cons relating these possible solutions?

2) What are the perceived legal and other policy questions raised by IDN, and what are possible solutions?

3) What IDN activities are actually underway, how extensive are they, and what bearing do they have on the technical and legal issues referenced above?

The working group's charter was limited to fact finding for the purpose of educating the Board and the ICANN community so that ICANN can fulfill its mission of technical management of Internet domain names and IP numbers. The working group was not responsible for setting technical standards for IDN.

Members of the Committee

The members of the IDN Internal Working Group were Masanobu Katoh (Chair), Karl Auerbach, Ivan Moura Campos, and Vint Cerf.


The Working Group circulated three surveys to gather facts about the technical and policy issues raised by IDN and about IDN services currently being provided.

On 1 June 2001, it published a status report on the initial results from the surveys and other activities of the Working Group. This report was presented to the ICANN Public Forum in Stockholm on 3 June 2001 and the report was discussed at that Public Forum, at the Board meeting on 4 June, and on ICANN's Internationalized Domain Names web-based public forum.

On 21 June 2001, the Working Group invited additional responses to the three surveys and public comment on the report. It also published follow-up questions.

The Working Group issued its final report on 28 August 2001 and that report was presented at the ICANN Public Forum held in Montevideo on 9 September 2001.

On 10 September 2001, on the Working Group's recommendation the ICANN Board created an IDN Committee consisting of participants from the broader community to serve as a general coordination body for the work on policy issues identified in the IDN Working Group Report and other policy issues that the IDN Committee identifies. As a result, the IDN Internal Working Group was discontinued.

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