IGF 2019 WS #216 Online Identity in the Multilingual Domain Name Space

Organizer 1: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Ajay Data, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Manal Ismail, Government, African Group

Additional Speakers

Leon Sanchez; ICANN Board

Nikolis Smith, Verisign


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How to make requirements of universal acceptance of domain names part of the e-government policy?

2. What role can academia play educating the current and future technology developers to effectively support the expanding domain name space to provide better access, choice and multilingual support to the global online community?

3. Which stakeholders are most relevant for addressing the challenge of universal acceptance of domain names and email addresses for online identity? Which tools would be most effective for creating awareness among these stakeholders?


GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Description: The Domain Name System (DNS) enables access to online content. Emails are now not only used as a way to communicate but also for online identification (as usernames). The domain name space has significantly expanded over the past decade with top-level domains increasing from a couple of hundred to well over a thousand. The newer domain names are many times not only longer (e.g. .photography, .london, etc.) but also in different local languages (e.g. موقع., .дети, .닷넷, etc.). It is therefore essential that the existing technological base, development practices and procurement requirements need to evolve to support this expansion in the name space. This workshop aims to create awareness of the critical need for universal acceptance of domain names and email addresses (UA), engage the relevant stakeholders to inform them of their role in promoting UA readiness and call them to action to address UA challenges in order to realize the intended benefits of competition, choice, multi-lingual access online for the global community. The workshop members will introduce the UA issues and share examples of current efforts underway to address them. The presenters will share technical and engagement work which needs to be done for UA-readiness. The participants will be engaged to discuss which stakeholders are relevant and effective methods to involve the stakeholders globally to achieve the UA-readiness goals.

Expected Outcomes: 1. Create awareness of the intended benefits of expansion in domain name space and the current problems and issues in the universal acceptance of domain names and email addresses (UA) 2. To showcase examples of successfully addressing UA which can be repeated by others to amplify the impact 3. To engage potential stakeholders and call them to action to address the UA challenge

The 90 minute session will be divided between brief introductions to the subject (45 minutes) and then 45 minutes of discussions between all the participants and the Panel. We will also include, in the discussion, the on-line participants.

Relevance to Theme: 1. Choice, and more importantly, multilingual access to online content and communication is meaningful in multiple ways. We do not all speak English or use Latin Scripts. 2. Choice in choosing a new top-level domain enhances the identity and experience of current online users by allowing them to use the relevant domain which relates to them. 3. Multilingual domain names and email addresses promote social inclusion and facilitate many new online users, as most of those do not use English as their native language. 4. Accessing multilingual domain names and email addresses also reduces the digital divide, and promotes internet access and digital literacy.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Universal acceptance of domain names and email addresses is not purely a technical issue, but also requires the involvement of governments, academia, private sector and civil society to define inclusive policies on accessibility and inclusion online.

Online Participation

Yes, we will promote the participation tool and give equal weight between on-line and physical questions / interventions.

Proposed Additional Tools: Yes, we will use the current ICANN interactive tools (with our global Community) to encourage virtual participation

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations

Policy Questions 

(i) What should ICANN and other bodies be doing to enhance the multi-lingual aspects of the Internet through the DNS; 

(ii) What effective measures should be taken to ensure Universal Acceptance of all domain names; 

(iii) What are the next steps for all parties to work together to enhance Universal Acceptance 

2. Summary of Issues Discussed

The discussion clearly demonstrated the problem faced by both those advocating for an Internet with diverse linguistic content and those involved in advoating for Universal Acceptance.  Essentially there is market failure as there is insufficient incentives for developers, operators or DNS players to make their systems UA/IDN friendly given the low take up for such names, itself because of lack of UA. Latter demostatred by dreaful fact that 81% of IDNs taken up "parked". 

3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward

The Session clearly demostated the problem, the mechansims for addressing it, not least through the UA Steering Group and the focus needed on the public sector.  Was clear that "market"; or guidance and advice are not going to solve the market failure. 

4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues

The overall problem of poor take up of IDNs and critical need for Universal Acceptance are being addressed by the UASG (as described by Dr Data in Session) and the Dynamic Coalition on DNS issues (DC-DNSI) that has taken up the cuase of Universal Acceptance. 

5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues

It was identified that both a bottom-up and top-down appraoch is needed.  In latter case the use of porcurement and standards are one potential vehicle for mandating service porvision that recognises all domain names. 

6. Estimated Participation

There were eight on-line Patticpants (2 women) and around 80 present (roughly 35-40% women. 

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

No specific gender issues