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  ccTLD News Memo #7 (1 February 2003)

This issue of the IANA ccTLD News focuses on the implementation of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs):

Item A below gives an update on the progress and schedule of the IDNA standard in the Internet Engineering Task Force.
Item B is a message from ICANN's President giving information about, and inviting ccTLD registry participation in, the ICANN IDN Registry Implementation Committee.
In addition (and not related to IDNs), Item C below describes a recently introduced, minor enhancement to the IANA ccTLD database.

(A) Progress and Schedule of the Internationalized Domain Name Standard

Since 1999, the Internet Engineering Task Force has been working on a standards-track protocol to provide internationalized access to domain names. After a BOF session at the IETF meeting in November 1999, the Internationalized Domain Name working group was established. Its work resulted in a mechanism known as "Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA)", which is reflected in three documents that were approved in October 2002 by the Internet Engineering Steering Group for publication as Requests for Comments:

These documents are currently in the RFC Editor's queue for publication.

One necessary step in the publication process is the assignment of an ACE prefix ("ACE" stands for ASCII Compatible Encoding) for the proposed standard (see Section 5 of <draft-ietf-idn-idna-14.txt>). This assignment is the responsibility of the IANA, which has scheduled the selection of the ACE prefix for 11 February 2003, with a public announcement immediately afterward. The RFC Editor will then assign RFC numbers and take the other steps required to complete its publication process.

(B) IDN Registry Implementation Committee

The following announcement concerns the IDN Registry Implementation Committee:

Dear Colleagues:

On behalf of Masanobu Katoh, Chair of the ICANN IDN Committee, and myself, I am writing to give you some information about ICANN's newly-formed Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) Registry Implementation Committee, and to invite the participation of those registries that are currently undertaking operational implementation of the IETF's Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) standard.

  • Purpose of IDN Registry Implementation Committee

In October, the IESG approved the publication of "Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications" (IDNA) as a standards-track protocol.[1] The focus of domain-name internationalization efforts will now shift from standard setting by the IETF to implementation by the existing TLD registries that will implement the IDNA protocol at the second level and below.

While IDNA is an exciting development for the DNS, it brings with it significant risks. The DNS functions well in part to due its simplicity of design and well-developed documentation; IDNA represents a new set of complications that must be well understood and accounted for by implementing registries. For example, the IDNA protocol enables the translation of all Unicode code points into unique ASCII strings. It has become clear over the past year that collisions, confusion, and other potentially damaging side-effects will arise if registration of all arbitrary characters available in the Unicode encoding system is permitted. These and other potential problems cannot be solved at the protocol level; they must instead be addressed by registries in their technical implementations and registration policies.

Because these problems are common to all DNS registries (both gTLD and ccTLD) that choose to implement IDNA, it is essential to have a global forum for registry-level dialogue, consultation, and exchange of information, open to the registries, registrars, and technical experts closest to the issue. Accordingly, in December the ICANN Board directed me, in consultation with Katoh-san, to convene a President's IDN Registry Implementation Committee "to consider and exchange information on ways to resolve the issues associated with implementation of IDN capabilities in existing top level domains."

The relevant ICANN Board resolutions can be found at:


For the benefit of Internet users everywhere, it is extremely important that the registries pioneering the implementation of IDNA share information and experiences with each other, particularly on issues of common concern, such as the use of character equivalence tables. See, for example, the proposed "Internationalized Domain Names Registration and Administration Guideline for Chinese, Japanese and Korean", draft-jseng-idn-admin-02.txt.

  • Membership

Membership in the IDN Registry Implementation Committee is intended for those who are directly involved in the implementation of IDNA (such as registry-level IDN project managers), and several independent IDN technical experts.

There is a tension between keeping the committee as open as possible, and keeping it small enough to get its work done. Accordingly, I am advising registries of the following guidelines. For gTLD and ccTLD registries, I invite any registry that is currently working to implement IDNA within the next six months to nominate someone at the level of a project or technical manager – in other words, an individual with actual responsibility for IDNA implementation. For the gTLD registrars, I have invited the Registrars Constituency to name two such individuals from among its member registrars. And for technical expertise, I have invited several of the IETF architects of IDNA to join as well.

Please do let me know if your registry meets these guidelines and wishes to participate; and, if so, the name of the person you wish to rperesent your ccTLD on the Committee.

To provide continuity and to ensure optimal communications, I have invited Katoh-san to chair the new IDN Registry Implermentation Committee while he continues to chair the IDN Committee, and he has graciously agreed to accept this dual role. He has also requested that I serve on the IDN Registry Implementation Committee, and I am pleased to do so.

  • Schedule & Methods

The IDN Registry Implementation Committee will begin immediately. Work will proceed via mailing list and, if needed, the occasional teleconference.

  • Agenda

I anticipate that the Committee members will begin by sharing information and plans for registry-level IDN registration and administration policies, including the use of character equivalence tables (such as the CJK guidlines cited above) and the exclusion of certain non-language code point ranges. It is important to emphasize that the committee is not intended to set hard rules for ccTLD registries, but rather to facilitate dialogue and information sharing so that IDNA project managers can educate and learn from each other and develop common solutions to common problems.

Both Katoh-San and I look forward to working with the ccTLD registry community on these important problems.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Best regards,

Stuart Lynn
ICANN President

[1] The three standards-track IETF documents comprising IDNA are:

(C) IANA ccTLD Database

Since 1999, the IANA has maintained the authoritative database concerning the delegation of ccTLDs. This database is published in a variety of ways:

Recently an additional field has been added to the database to display the domain names at which port 43 Whois services are available for each of the ccTLDs. It you want your port 43 Whois service listed, please send an e-mail message to <> with the domain name of the host at which the service is available.

Please send comments on this web site to:
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