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ICANN Melbourne Meeting Topic: Introduction of Internationalized Domain Names

Posted: 27 February 2001

One of the topics to be discussed at the ICANN Public Forum on 12 March 2001 in Melbourne is introduction of internationalized domain names (IDNs). The following invites public comment on various aspects of the introduction process. Public comment may be made at the 12 March Public Forum or on the web-based forum that you can enter by clicking below.

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on introduction of internationalized domain names (IDNs)

Request for Comment on the Introduction of Internationalized Domain Names

Currently, English is the dominant language of the Internet, and the domain name system generally functions through the use of Roman characters. Although the percentage of the world's population that can read Roman characters is increasing, billions of people still cannot. Accordingly, for the Internet to become a truly global medium for communications and commerce, it must evolve to accommodate identifiers (such as domain names) in non-Roman characters. Obvious candidates include Chinese and other East Asian characters; Arabic; Hebrew; Sanskrit; and Cyrillic characters. This evolution may require the overcoming of significant technological obstacles.

Several initiatives to use non-Roman (non-ASCII) characters for domain names have begun. For example, VeriSign started a internationalized domain name test bed using {non-Roman.com} in November, 2000. Also, some of the ccTLD registries are conducting trials of non-Roman character sets within their ccTLDs. Thus, JPNIC has started a test bed of {Japanese.jp} this month. Additionally, there are many businesses which are aggressively advertising and marketing the pre-registration of internationalized domain names.

Previously, on September 25, 2000, the ICANN Board discussed the evolving efforts to introduce internationalized domain names into the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS). In the resolution adopted at that time, the Board recognized that it is important that:

(a) the Internet evolve to be more accessible to those who do not use the ASCII character set;

(b) 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; and

(c) constructive experimentation with extensions to the domain name system to support multilingual names should be encouraged, provided it is done in a manner consistent with promoting responsible standardization, it avoids disrupting the stability of the Internet or the interoperability of Internet services, and its experimental character is clearly understood by all affected.

The text of the full resolution is at: <http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-25sep00.htm#MultilingualDomainNames>

At this time, ICANN wishes to assess progress on the introduction of internationalized domain names (IDN) and invites comment prior to and at the Public Forum to be held on March 12 in Melbourne, Australia.

The questions listed below are not intended to be exhaustive, and comment is invited on any aspect of how ICANN might facilitate the successful deployment of IDN. Please note that technical standardization and testbed activities are not being carried on by ICANN or at ICANN's direction.

Q1. Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) Standardization and Testbed Deployment Process.

Interested parties are invited to comment on any aspect of developments thus far in standardizing and deploying IDNs. What challenges for timely and orderly implementation of registration of such names are presented by the IETF's standardization process and the currently operating testbed operations? What steps should be taken to promote the prompt availability of registration facilities that are in compliance with the IETF's preliminary standard when it is issued?

Q2. Intellectual Property Considerations in IDNs.

There is considerable evidence of attempts to cybersquat on IDNs in the existing testbeds. There is also confusion about the manner in which trademarks are to be applied in the IDN area, and what remedies, short and long term, should be sought to prevent infringement, abusive registrations, and similar problems. To what extent should reliance be placed on non-judicial arbitration requirements in registration agreements, such as ICANN's UDRP, to resolve these problems? What changes in the UDRP, unique to the internationalized environment, are needed? Should ICANN, or WIPO, or both, conduct policy review and development proceedings related to internationalized domain names and trademarks?

Q3. Relationship of Character Sets for Internationalized Domain Names to Their Parent Languages.

The worldwide, real time fully interoperable conversion of domain names into IP Addresses requires an unambiguous engineering specification of the permitted character sets in the domain names. Languages and their subdialects frequently rely on context to resolve ambiguity in diverse and irregular ways. The adoption of the permitted character set(s) for IDNs must conform to the engineering requirement as well as exhibit sensitivity to language norms and cultural considerations. What groups (IETF, ICANN, registries, governments) should work toward resolution of these issues? What other parties should be involved, what benefits would their involvement provide, and how should related considerations, such as timing of standardization development, be handled?

Q4. Public Education and Outreach on IDNs.

The deployment of IDNs will add complexity to a system which is already difficult for many individuals to understand. Where should the primary responsibility for public education and outreach on the introduction and use of multi-lingual domain names be lodged? What is an appropriate level of funding for education and outreach programs and from what source should the funds be sought?

Q5. IDNs and ICANN Registry/Registrar Agreements.

The primary purpose of the registry and registrar agreements which ICANN has developed thus far is to protect the stability and interoperability of the Internet, and to promote reasonable and fair business opportunities within the Domain Name and Address Systems. To what extent does the deployment of IDNs require revision to existing agreements? What new or changed provisions would enhance the utility and value of the DNS for IDNs? Should the adoption of new terms in registry and registrar agreements be accomplished through an ICANN policy development process?

Click here to enter the Public Comment Forum on introduction of internationalized domain names (IDNs)

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