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Tim I owe you my thanks for replying and a response to your reply. Bear with me please - a multiplicity of deadlines this week.

Yesterday I found myself involved in a heated discussion on the Internet Governance Caucus (IGC) list on the subject of the new internationalised domain names (IDNs). Looking at it from the outside it seems to me that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has got itself stuck between a rock and a hard place with a policy issue. The expression “between a rock and a hard place” indicates being in an awkward position with apparently no way out, and therefore seems to be particularly suitable for this case.


The overt reason for the new IDNs was inclusion. They would allow different peoples to use their own familiar script on the Internet in the URL at the top level, so that the code for their country would appear to them as they are accustomed to seeing it. Of course more scripts = more space, just as in IPv6 more numbers = more space. IDNs as well as being “culturally correct” would be good for “the market” too.


Because some of the new letter symbols in other scripts are identical with letter symbols in  Latin script which are already in use it was necessary to create a policy to prefer the existing Latin script ascii where those symbols were in use already. Everyone concerned seemed to accept that provision. There also exists a policy which speaks to “confusing similarity”. As far as I know this policy was originally intended to protect say “coca-cola” from a proposed “coco-cola” (example off the top of my head). However it is now being applied to the letter strings. The judgement required is necessarily highly subjective and seems unfair. Now it is suggested that the policy may be being applied to protect future Latin script strings from being on the wrong side of a “confusing similarity” call.


Added to that “big business” is also unhappy about the new IDNs – possibly, and this is strictly my own opinion, because countries are being allowed “first go” through the Fast Track process. And looming in the future is the United States election in November of next year. This is a very “wicked” policy situation for ICANN to find itself in, but also difficult for us at the “grassroots level”. For me, if I support Bulgaria and Greece in their claims to use their own scripts am I also helping “big business” to persuade ICANN to do away with the idea of IDNs, which outcome is the very opposite of what I would like to see happen?


I am sure that I have made a great many mis-representations in my understanding of ICANN’s position and would be delighted if  people would correct and clarify. However this account is my own understanding, offered in good faith.


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