ICANN sees progress on revamped DNS

ICANN made progress on technical aspects of expanding domain names to more languages and alphabets

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) met in Sao Paolo this week and made progress on a project to expand domain names to more languages and alphabets.

ICANN had a "very, very busy and very productive week," ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf said during a press conference he led Friday with Chief Executive Officer and President Paul Twomey. The group made progress on technical issues related to Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).

The IDN project is meant to revamp the DNS (Domain Name System) so that it supports domain names from different languages and alphabets, such as Arabic and Chinese, that can't be rendered in the ASCII character set.

The nonprofit group that oversees Internet governance also signed what its officials call a "historic agreement" with 22 Internet user groups in Latin America and Caribbean. The Latin America-Caribbean Regional At-Large Organization, or RALO, has the goal of providing individual user input to ICANN. This is the first RALO agreement ICANN has reached.

ICANN further announced that it approved registry agreements for the .biz, .info and .org domains, with a restriction that traffic data cannot be used to disclose domain name registrant, end-user information or other personal data. Traffic data can be used to determine problems with the Internet, including points of failure, attacks on networks, compromised networks and the like. The agreements also put a 10 percent cap on price increases charged by registry operators.

ICANN members also agreed to a three-year strategic plan that calls for a focus on "organizational excellence" in operations and policy development, as well as an increase in international participation. Top priorities for action in the plan include improvement and automation of the ICANN-controlled Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA), which manages master domain lists; deployment of the IDNs as top-level domains; and implementing best practices for "accountability, transparency and governance."

Also at the meeting, ICANN signed a contract with DotAsia Organisation, in Hong Kong, to establish a .asia top-level domain. Companies and organizations in Asia looking beyond their local markets, as well as multinationals with subsidiaries that are based in one country but serve all of Asia, would benefit from the regional domain name, the company said. Working with ICANN, DotAsia plans to gradually introduce IDN services in the future.

The text of resolutions adopted in Sao Paulo, along with IDN laboratory testing design plans, agreements and matters for which ICANN is seeking public comment can be found at the ICANN Web site.

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