Help Us Shape The Internet's Future

IDN Liaison Monthly Reports May 2007 - October 2008

1 May 2007

By Hong Xue, May 2007

I'm drafting an IDN WG working plan and sending it the list for comments.
1. WG Construction
Since the WG was formed in May, at-large community have showed strong interests in participation. Up to July 8, seven individuals from Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe have subscribed to WG's list at Plus three volunteers from the ALAC, the WG has got the support of 10 people.
2. Communication Platform
The WG is now utilizing the wiki and mailing list as primary communication platform. As the first step, I'm making this wiki page an one-stop shop for all the useful information on IDNs. Ohters are welcome to post materials that fit this topic. To post a message to all the list members, send email to
With the progress of the policy work, the WG may need further staff support to arrange conference calls or all other forms of online meetings.
3. Policy Priorities
The WG has prioritizes the status report regarding IDN ccTLDs associated with the ISO 3166-1 two-letter codes requested by the Board. The report should be completed before ICANN meeting in Los Angeles in October 2007.
The WG is also researching the new gtlds report by GNSO and assessing the impact of the proposed new gtld principles, guidelines and implementation rules on IDNs. The WG is considering whether a commentary should be submitted to the Board at LA meeting.

By Hong Xue, June 2007

General Briefing:
1) On May 2, 2007, ICANN published IDN Glossary, which is to ensure that discussions regarding IDNs take place in a consistent manner. The glossary terms can be used freely and is expected to be expanded over time.
2) On 11 May 2007, ICANN published the Draft IDN Guidelines (v.2.2) for Public Comments. This is the first version of the IDN Guidelines to make specific reference to IDN in top-level labels. It is anticipated to be amended and supplemented in subsequent drafts in preparation for the release of internationalized top-level labels in the production environmen
3) The Draft IDN Guidelines (v.2.2) was published in six languages. The Liaison, in coordination with the CDNC, translated the draft into Chinese.
ALAC IDN Policy Consideration
4) Language communities’ participation in the ICANN PDPs
5) Selection of IDN strings in top-level labels
6) Selection of IDN registries
ALAC IDN Policy Development Process:
7) Formation of the working group
8) Workshop on IDN policy in San Juan
9) Policy briefing at RALO meetings in San Juan

By Hong Xue, July 2007

IDN WG is now primarily working on the draft Comments on IDN ccTLDs. It's proceeding well according to the work plan. For details, please refer to the WG wiki page. WG four core members are commenting on each other's draft sections. From August 5, the draft will be open to any comments by all the users who subscribed to the WG list. The WG is also planning with ALAC and staffs for an IDN WS at IGF. Since ICANN IDN staffs have not confirmed on the proposed merging workshop, the plan may not be worked out.

By Hong Xue, September 11, 2007

On August 23, 2007, ICANN finalized the IDN .test Evaluation Plan and continued taking steps toward insertion of IDN strings in the root zone. Recent changes to the plan are based on comments received on the IDN public forum and also from consultations with ICANN Technical Advisory Committees. This last version was approved by the ICANN Board at their 14 August 2007 meeting. The resolution directs ICANN Staff to implement the IDN .test Evaluation Plan, and report back to the ICANN Board following the conclusion of the evaluation. Specifically, the Board approved the delegation of eleven evaluative top-level domains representing the term 'test' translated into: Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil. Following this ICANN Board approval, the delegation request will now go through standard IANA procedures for insertion of top-level domains into the root zone. The technical evaluations of IDN TLDs and their usability in various applications will proceed following their delegation. See

ALAC IDN WG is now finalizing the draft answers to the IDN ccTLDs questions. Next round of public consultation in the global at-large community will commence from September.

By Hong Xue, October 9, 2007

The final outputs of the WG are now being presented on a new wiki page ALAC Statement for the ICANN Board Request for Responses. The WG is heartily appreciative for all the comments and suggestions from the users' community. New comments or revisions are still welcome. The public comment period is by October 13, 2007. After synchronizing all the inputs and finalizing the report, the WG will seek the approval of the ALAC for its submission to the Board at LA meeting.

By Hong Xue, December 7, 2007

At its meeting on 2 October 2007, the ccNSO Council launched a Policy Development Process (ccPDP) by requesting a PDP Issues Report and appointing an Issues Manager. This ccPDP has been launched to develop an overall approach, which includes finding solutions for the matters raised in the "Questions and Issues Paper", on which ALAC has submitted the comments. A Working Group has been established by ccNSO IDNC (IDNC WG), which is to develop and report on feasible methods, if any, that would enable the introduction, in a timely manner and in a manner that ensures the continued security and stability of the Internet, of a limited number of non-contentious IDN ccTLDs while the overall policy is being developed. At the end of November 2007, Cheryl Langdon-Orr and Hong Xue joined the WG from the ALAC. The two members shall report to the At-large community of any progress at WG in due course.

By Hong Xue, January 8, 2008

On December 14, 2007, CCNSO published the IDNC working group charter A "Topic list for Initial Report on introduction IDN ccTLD under fast track" was circulated in the working group list at the same time. The scope of the IDNC WG is limited to developing feasible methods (for the introduction of a limited number of IDN ccTLDs) that do not pre-empt the outcomes of the IDN ccPDP. A list of topics is drafted to form the structure of discussion on the mechanisms of fast-track implementation. Comment and input are sought on the relevance of the topics listed and whether there are additional
topics. Comments need to be received by 16 January. So far, comments on the chair of the working group, working process and nature of fast track approach have been sent to the list.

I'm strongly suggesting the new ALAC IDN WG under the new leadership to submit the comments on this important matter. The most imminent and serious concern is the relationship between the fast-track and long-term approach. The dilemma is that an oversimplified procedure will not produce a sustainable solution while a complicated procedure will not be fast! It's been painfully felt the lack of overall coordination between IDN gTLDs and IDN ccTLDs. It would be essential to avoid the problem in ccTLD name space.

By Hong Xue, February 10, 2008

Policy Development of IDNs is happending both in ccTLDs and gTLDs domains. With respect to IDN ccTLDs, Liaison-led ALAC IDN WG had submitted the Status Report at the Request of the Board. Presently, the IDN Liaison is actively participating the CCNSO IDNC WG on fast-track approach. The long-term solution in the form of an IDN-ccTLD PDP is still in the very initial stage. With respect to the IDN gTLDs that is assimilated in the new gTLDs process (new gTLDs), the Liaison is also drafting a comments for the public review. The liaison suggested the new ALAC IDN WG enhance its team work and strengthen the public participation.

By Hong Xue, March 11, 2008

The Liaison has submitted the comments on CCNSO IDNC WG's Initial Report (see above). The WG just circulated a "proposed methodology for the fast track" as the starting step for the drafting of the preliminary report. After reviewing the proposal, the Liaison has the following comments: the proposal that is focusing on non-contentiousness of the fast-track approach should be welcome. However, the proposal seems falling short of effective mechanism to guarantee the non-contentiousness of the fast track. The proposal removes almost all the channels for public consultations and objection at the ICANN evaluation stage and grants all the powers to two "small evaluation committees" (on language and technology). If some actor from either the same ccTLD territory or another ccTLD territory raises objection to the evaluation committee, shall the complaint or appeal be entertained? Also, at the submission stage, there is no defined procedure or template for an application to acquire the "evidenced endorsement" from the local actors. The Liaison will raised these concerns at the next IDNC WG conference call on March 17, 2008.

By Hong Xue, April 8, 2008

The ccNSO IDNC is still discussing the methodology for fast-tracking IDN ccTLDs. The discussions are now focusing on three issues, i.e. technical test at new IDN ccTLD registries, evaluation establishment and objection procedure. Firstly, different from many people's belief that the present ccTLD registries will be the relevant IDN ccTLD registries by default if fast-tracked, there will be a selection procedure and new registries may well emerge. To ensure the technical stability and feasibility, a technical test for the registry will be conducted in cooperation with the IDN PAC. Secondly, two evaulation committees on languages and technology respectively are proposed to be established. A couple of contentious issues have been raised on this, incluidng the composition of the committees, the function of the evaluation and correlation with the domestic endorsement. Thirdly, it has been raised whether an objection procedure (or at least a public consulation process) should be inserted in between applicaiton with evidenced domestic endorsement and evaluation at the ICANN level. The liaison actively participated the discussions in the conference calls. Basically, the liaison insists that any implementation mechanism should not accelerate rather than delay the fast-track and sufficient, transparent and accountable public consultation should also be included in the process.

By Hong Xue, May 6, 2008

The ccNSO IDNC had two conference calls in April. Instead of making progress, it seems the whole fast-track proposal is drawing back. There are two most contentious issues in the discussions: the role of language committee in evaluation of IDN ccTLDs and objection procedure from outside the pertinent ccTLD territory. Both are tremendously complicating the whole proposal and significantly slow down the so-called fast-track. Despite its name, the so-called language committee will not only look into the linguistic issues (such as the Arabic string for Saudi) but also the political issue (such as whether there should be a string for Kosovo). The objection procedure is even more controversial: it means an application that is supported in all the stakeholders of the pertinent ccTLD territory will be subject to the objection from any outsider. I have spoken out loud that the fast track shall feature with non-contentiousness and speediness. Anything that is not consistent with the two features should not be embraced in the fast track. Both controversial evaluation and objection mean the application is quite contentious then shall not be entertained in the fast track at all. More and more complicated procedure will inevitably make fast track absurdly slow and eventually infeasible.

On the other hand, I discover that there is serious problem in the communication and management of the IDNC. Please see the following email I sent to the Chair of IDNC to protest the government-heavy and user-light approach in the committee discussions.

Dear Mr. Disspain,

I must say I am extremely disappointed by your monitoring of the last
two teleconferences, both of which were supposed to be the meetings
not your personal lectures. Last night, you kept talking for more than
2 hours and did not allow me--who had been patiently listening to you
for more than 2 hours--to finish my points. Even in a
court debate (I'm a lawyer as well), you should not arrogantly
interrupt the other party's presentation. A Chair is a facilitator,
having no right to silence any legitimate participant. BUT, you have
done five times on me in two calls. I note that you did this Not for
time constraint or any other logistic reason that a Chair should care
about. I cannot help but wondering if this is out of blatant prejudice
against me or the whole user community. Last night, you referred
several times to the government rep.s and showed your high willing to
listen to the "government". In sharp contrast, you immediately forced
me (from the user community) to close my mouth when I started to talk.
Also, what you did is extremely cruel to a non-English speaker and of
course a genuine IDN user. Your interruptions broke my whole sentences
and prevented me from effectively expressing my ideas. This is so
unfair. Can you imagine the feeling if you had to talk in Chinese and
I interrupted you after every three words?

Of course, my personal treatment is nothing important. What I really
care is if I can fulfill my responsibility. At the last call, I raised
the issues of non-contentiousness in two aspects (within cc community
and outside). You stopped me and simply rebutted with the GAC
principles. Interestingly, last night, so many people from Businesses,
Gov, etc. talked about objections from outside the cc. You, yourself,
used some examples as well. Then, where are the GAC principles? Did
your rebuttals only apply to me? I still believe fast-track should be
defined with the two salient features--non-contentiousness and
speediness. In these two calls, I assume more and more complicated
procedure is making the whole thing go to a wrong track that will
inevitably delay the IDNs in cc domain.

By Hong Xue, June 10, 2008

The drafting of ccNSO IDNC report has reached the final stage and the debates have become more heated. The two most contentioius issues are Point E in Section One and objection procedure. The current wording of Point E is "the proposed string and delegation request should be non-contentious withing the territory". However, this point has become very contentious within the WG. For the interest of the user community, I'm of strong belief that any contentious case, inside or outside a territory, should not further delay the implementation of the very first great experiment of IDN TLDs. Whatever Point E or objection procedure are concerned, any of the contentious cases should not prevent all the other non-contentious, clear-cut and absolutely-ripe IDN ccTLDs from going ahead right now. The fast-track methodoloty is supposed to prevent any systematic loophole and only allow those purely non-contentous IDNs go real. Let's repeat speediness and non-contentiousness are two inalienable wings for fast-track process. Fast-track cannot take off without any of them.

The following is the comments I provided to IDNC call on June 10.

Firstly, I'm sticking to my views on "non-contentiousness" and
"objection procedure" raised in the two calls in April 2008;

Secondly, fast-track is only the beginning, not the last thing that
everybody must catch. To ensure the speed implementation, we shall
keep it as non-contentious as possible. It does not make much sense to
complicate the whole thing and consequently slow down its takeoff. Why
not simply let those that are completely non-contentious ones go
first? There will be a PDP to catch all!

Third, any further delay will only take toll on the users who have
been anxiously waiting for IDNs for a very long time. So, no more
delay! Fast track must proceed as scheduled.

By Hong Xue, July 22, 2008

After Paris Meeting, IDN-specific policy-making has no new progress, but I have a couple of observations.

On the famous fast-track for IDN ccTLDs, the Board has greenlighted its implementation. However, two questions are still outstanding.

One question is related to the Board Resolution that "the timing of the process for the introduction of IDN ccTLDs should be aligned with the process for the introduction of New gTLDs." Once tied to the highly contentious new gTLD process, the fast-track will be an ironical and misleading title for IDN ccTLD implementation. Although we don't know the political or economic calcuation behind this, we are sure that the delay will be against the interests of the users.

Another question is more on implementation plan than on the policy per se. It seems that ICANN is willing to reopen the debate on whether IDNs are for non-Latin scripts or non-ASCII scripts. Although the fast track is originallly designed to feed the "pressing demand" of non-Latin script users, ICANN is not reluctant to entertain the marketing demand for those Latin-but-non-ASCII script community. Okay, why not let everyone get on this fast-track train? I guess it won't be too difficult for even UK to think of some non-ASCII scripts, such as Welsh (wælisc) scripts. But do these user communities have the pressing needs like Chinese, Arabic or Greek users? Now, we can really see the divide between information (script)-have's and information (script)-havenot's. Can ICANN have a vision on this?

With respect to the IDN gTLs, it seem that it won't take off in the near future at all. Instead, a plan is going to "improve the new gTLD implemenation report" (by the GNSO Improvements Planning Team, 21 June 2008). So, a new round of pulic consultation, a new group, a new timeline. Isn't this endless? Seriously, cann't we see an outcome in our lifetime?

Apart from the hopeless and unforeseeable implementation, the ICANN CEO's briefing to the press sounds scary. "We are doing this on a cost recovery basis. We've already spent $10m on this," Dr Twomey said. Icann was still working through how much the application fee to register a domain name will be, but it is expected to be at least several thousand dollars. Should there be special treatement for IDN gTLDs? Different from ASCII new gTLDs, IDN gTLDs are most probably applied by those small-scale, non-commercial and/or community-based parties. Has ICANN taken account into this?

Queremos documentos en español YA!
Que felicidad me da saber que hay mucha información sobre IDNs... que tristeza saber que nada de esto pueden leer y enterarse la mayoria de los Usuarios de Internet de mi país y en todo Hispanoamericana por no estar traducido al español...
Los Usuarios de Internet de habla Hispana queremos que la documentación de ICANN este dispuesta también en español para poder intervenir y participar de la toma de decisiones.
¡¡Participar, expresarse y enterarse sobre las cuestiones que se ventilan en este organismo, son un derecho y no un privilegio!! Las Asociaciones de Usuarios de Internet de los países de habla Hispana queremos que se cumpla con lo aprobado en el Meeting de París sobre este tema.
Saludos Cordiales
Sergio Salinas Porto
Asociación Internauta
Usuarios de Internet de la República Argentina
Integrante de la Alianza Internauta Latinoamericana

contributed by Guest User on Jul 12 11:34am

By Hong Xue, August 12, 2008

As we thought the new gTLD implementation is in standstill, a new paper on "Economic Case for Auctions in New gTLDs" (released on August 8, 2008) catches our attention. The paper notes that auctions as a tiebreaking mechanism accomplish a goal of allocative efficiency through a transparent, objective and scalable process for the resolution of gTLD applications. Although this paper does not address specific details on how an auction process to resolve string contention may be conducted, which will be provided as part of the larger information on new gTLD implementation to be presented to the community in the near future, the theoretical and ideaological preference to autions already shocks many people in the ICANN community.

Given that the new gTLD process embraces the IDN TLDs, the paper presents a very surprising, or shocking view, on allocation of TLDs. If the paper is primarily on the economic consideration, I wonder if the ICANN has any other consideration, such as protecting cultural diversity and bridging digital divide, on selection of new gTLDs (IDN gTLDs). As a governing body of a critical Internet resources, ICANN should envisage the values that are more important and fundamental than the highest bidding amount.

I'd like echo what has been precisely stated by Vittorio:

Another wrong assumption is that monetary value is the only quantity that counts.In fact, personally I think that the "value" of a TLD is mostly connected to other factors. For example, one is how many final users of the Internet will ever use services located inside that TLD; another one is how strongly these people will feel attached to that TLD, i.e. whether the TLD contributes to build any kind of "community identity" for an online group of people that presently does not have it; a third one is whether the new TLD will spawn innovative uses of the DNS or enable innovative services. None of these is directly connected to monetary value, and it is quite disturbing to me that an organization like ICANN, which is meant to steward scarce global public resources in the interest of the entire community of the Internet, still seems to have such a partial and narrow view of where the value of the Internet itself lies.

By Hong Xue, September 9, 2008

It has been a quiet summer month that has no outstanding issues
specifically on IDN development. But there is something else that can
sufficiently entertains us. Firstly, since I criticized ICANN's
so-called cost recovery approach on IDN gTLD allocation (see last
month's report), I was bombarded by quite a few auction-proponents. To
my rough memory, all of them are from the developed countries.
Probably, in their (absurd imperialist snobbish) belief, the user
communities of the developing world should only be the "silent
majority", accepting whatever destiny that is imposed on them. They
feel extremely annoying or at least uncomfortable to hear the voice of
the former silent majority. But, sooner or later, they will have to get
use to this. The world is changing. Time and tide wait for no man.
Secondly, ICANN published a new travel policy, which will make the
users from the poor countries more difficult to attend the ICANN
meeting in-person. I assume such cost-saving plus cost-recovery could
make ICANN more cost effective--I mean--only spending the money on the
right things, such as IDNs.

At the time of this monthly call (13:30 UTC), I will be at a conference in Geneva. My panel will start from 15:00 UTC. I will try all my best to join the call. In my term of liaison, I always to manage to attend the calls no matter where I was and what I was doing. I believe in the spirit of dedication.

By Hong Xue, October 14, 2008

ICANN just celebrated its tenth birthday on September 30, 2008. ICANN is already ten years ago but more than 100 million Internet users who witness the ICANN becoming a "teenager" have not seen any TLD in native scripts yet. The people's impatience is growing. No wonder a couple of people specifically criticized the ICANN's lack of progress on IDN issues at the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group conference on September 16, 2008. I'm attaching an email from the ICANN's Vice President to respond to the users' concerns on IDNs. It undoubtably acknowledges the importance, influence and outstandingness of ALAC's IDN works. I'm very pround of that.

On the other hand, ICANN is moving ahead, albeit slowly, on the implementation of the fast-track IDN ccTLDs. On October 2, 2008, the ICANN CEO wrote to both the national governments and ccTLD managers to seek their assistance in forecasting the number of countries and territories interesting in seeking an IDN ccTLD/s through the "fast track" process. For more information, please refer to the front page of IDN Liaison. Although we don't know how ICANN will respond if all 243 ccTLDs are all interested in squeezing through the fast track, it is definitely a positive step towards the TLD allocation and implementation. But the fast-track is only alternative, and the PDP, which will take more than 2 years to evolve, should still be prioritized.

The third issue I want to report is the IDN Workshop at the IGF 2008 co-organized by the ICANN, ALAC and APRALO. The workshop was designed by Ms. Teresa Swinehart and me. It is going to be a follow-up session to the Main Session on the multilingualism and internationalization. A group of speakers across almost all the constituencies of the ICANN have been invited. The full program will soon be published.

  from Swinehart <>
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date, Sep 16, 2008 at 6:12 PM
subject multilingualism Comments from YJ at the open meeting
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Hi Patrik, I would agree with your approach and suggestion and appreciate your taking the time for this note. In relation to specific IDN related work, there are some other efforts underway, including looking to merge a workshop with ALAC, Hong, on current IDN related work. As those involved in the work of specific IDNs know, there’s been much work underway in this area with the Internet community, and within ICANN (and recent outcomes of the ICANN Paris meeting that involved the GAC and ccTLDs) (see IDN section on briefing note at: note). While a brief touching on may be of interest, I think the lengthier discussions are better left for a specific workshop focused on that, not deviate from the excellent approach tot he main workshop. Look forward to the discussion tomorrow morning. Best Theresa