IGF 2020 WS #267 Universal Acceptance of Domain Names and Email Addresses

Time
Monday, 16th November, 2020 (08:30 UTC) - Monday, 16th November, 2020 (10:00 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
Billions of users could be accessing internet in their own local languages. Universal Acceptance (UA) is key for such a seamless access, making available internationalised domain names and email-addresses that support local scripts. Currently, the technology deployed online supporting these is limited. This session aims to address the challenges UA is facing, how to bridge the gap between demand and supply and to provide concrete solutions to enable a truly inclusive internet.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Sarmad Hussain, ICANN
Organizer 2: Maria Kolesnikova, Coordination Center for TLD RU
Organizer 3: Dennis Tan, Verisign
Organizer 4: Vera Major, ICANN

Speaker 1: Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Walter Wu, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Ajay Data, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Akinori Maemura, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Additional Speakers

Walter Wu, Business Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Moderator

Maria Kolesnikova, Technical Community, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Dennis Tan, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

Vera Major, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

- What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users? - How should the public sector address its practice and policy to incorporate UA readiness in its e-government services to better serve its citizens? - How can the end-user community organize to motivate the public sector and technology developers to promote inclusion and choice by allowing UA for all domain names and email addresses?

The implementation of the underlying technical standards and policy to support Universal Acceptance remain largely unrealized. This creates obstacles in wider deployment. As an example, registrations for domain names in local languages are many times not renewed because end-users find that email addresses based on these domain names are not widely accepted. Email service providers are reluctant to deploy such services knowing that customer experience would be degraded when such emails do not reach their intended recipients as, even if they support it, the email infrastructure deployed elsewhere does not widely support the updated email protocols. The teams maintaining technology frameworks do not prioritize support for UA readiness because even with the potentially significant socio-economic benefit, the support for UA may not make a convincing business case in the short-term. Therefore, even where the demand for UA ready solutions exists, the technology is not available or only partially supports the solution. A broad-based awareness and strategy is needed to transform this situation. The public sector, through the e-government systems and services it deploys, may be able to help transform this situation by driving the necessary demand. The unique position of government provides great opportunities, by requiring UA readiness in its procurement policy for instance. Government-led implementation and deployment will not only provide more access for citizens but also help create the awareness for the need to support the technical standards and corresponding availability of the multilingual palette of domain names and email addresses. A dialogue between the technology providers and public sector would allow to bring out a way forward. Similarly, the civil society, through its efforts to promote online inclusion, can help provide the right awareness and drive the additional demand by requiring their own systems to be UA ready. The perspective will sensitize both the policy makers and technology developers on the impact of supporting UA and providing meaningful connectivity to all users.

SDGs

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Description:

Universal Acceptance of domain names and email addresses (UA) is essential not only for providing end-users the online identity of their choice but it is also vital for allowing seamless online access to billions who use local languages and orthographies. UA is the key to access content online. Despite the availability of new options for top-level domain names, internationalized domain names and internationalized email addresses, the support for these in the technology solutions deployed online is still limited. Addressing this challenge is a “chicken and egg” problem. Those who want to use their preferred online identity, e.g. domain name or email address in their local language, (“demand”) cannot find sufficient technical support. On the other hand, those who develop the tools and technology supporting UA ready solutions (“supply”) do not see a sufficient demand to prioritize updating their software and online services. This workshop aims to address how we can motivate the stakeholders on the demand and the supply sides to come together to find catalysts and solutions to address the UA challenge to enable a truly multilingual and inclusive internet. Several key players from both the demand and supply sides have been selected to explore this challenge. In a discussion led by the moderator, first the panelists will set the stage by presenting their stakeholder group’s perspective for UA deployment or use. As this has a global socio-economic impact, this will lead into an open discussion with the participants present and online to determine measures to motivate all the stakeholders to adopt and promote UA ready solutions. From the demand-side, the public sector could play a key role. To better serve their citizens, governments could lead by example and support all domain names and email addresses in their e-government services, including those in local languages and scripts. By requiring such support, governments would help push forward this digital transformation for meaningful connectivity opportunities for all their citizens, including minorities. The civil society should also support UA to provide access for the end-users to be able to participate in community-based platforms. Furthermore, this would also present business opportunities and open a wider market for entrepreneurs using online resources. From the supply side, technology leaders whose platforms are used online globally are key players to provide UA ready solutions. Providers for programming languages and frameworks for developing web-based applications, providers of social media and communication applications, and the organizations which produce the underlying protocols for interoperability, are all key players in the implementation of UA. Unless these technologies are not UA ready the end-users cannot effectively use these tools and services globally. The session will bring together policy makers and practitioners from both the supply and demand sides of UA to discuss what are the current challenges on either side for supporting UA and how to bridge the gap to quickly and concretely to address UA and provide an inclusive internet experience for all globally.

Expected Outcomes

- Create awareness of the potential benefits of UA readiness and the current challenges faced in achieving it - Identify ways forward for addressing the gaps from the perspectives of the different stakeholder groups - Use the discussion to chart out a high-level roadmap for UA readiness for the stakeholders

The session will start with each panelist given five minutes to lay out the challenges in supporting UA readiness from the perspectives of their stakeholder groups. The Onsite Moderator will then involve the participants present and online to contribute any additional challenges or clarification questions. (35 minutes) With the challenges laid out, the moderator will summarize the gaps identified and then engage the panelists for another five minutes each to share what they can do, and how they would like other stakeholders to help, to address the gaps in UA readiness. The moderator will then open the floor to get inputs from the participants in the room and online to build on the responses from the panelists. (35 minutes) In the end the moderator will open the floor for discussion on next steps based on the inputs form the panelists and the participants. In the end the moderator will give two minutes each to each panelist to make the closing remarks and then conclude. (20 minutes)

Relevance to Internet Governance: Breaking the UA barrier requires the involvement of governments, information technology (private) sector and civil society to have a dialogue to determine cohesive policies and measures to promote accessibility, choice and inclusion for end-users online. Due to the deadlock situation discussed, UA readiness requires a broader level of cooperation between stakeholders. The workshop proposal brings together stakeholders from all relevant perspectives contributing to the implementation of UA, including governments, end-users, academia, civil society and the private sector providing online technical solutions. The potential for impact of UA readiness on end-users reaches globally, promising meaningful access to local content, more effective communication online, and broader participation in the digital economy. UA has the potential to contribute to the future growth of the Internet, and it is only through the sharing of UA experiences and development of partnerships between all stakeholders that this can be achieved.

Relevance to Theme: An inclusive internet would allow online participation in the user's own language and with the identity of the user's choice. End-users are more able and more motivated to participate online on local and global levels with such choices. Universal Acceptance of domain names and email addresses (UA) is essential for achieving this equitable and inclusive Internet. A more ubiquitous online opportunity would promote both the access and creation of local content, and communication online, which in turn impacts socio-economic growth. UA is not just about having the technical standards, many of which are already in place to address access and choice, but about supporting these standards in practice. Without deployed technology being UA ready, meaningful inclusion remains an unfulfilled promise. This workshop on UA would explore how to achieve UA-readiness.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users?

What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users?

What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users?
What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users?

What measures would motivate the technical community to prioritize the UA support in their tools and services, given the potential socio-economic impact for the end-users?
How should the public sector address its practice and policy to incorporate UA readiness in its e-government services to better serve its citizens?
How can the end-user community organize to motivate the public sector and technology developers to promote inclusion and choice by allowing UA for all domain names and email addresses?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Supply side

  • The biggest expansions for creating customer choice and competition in the Domain Name Space have been the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and the new gTLD program by ICANN
  • Every developer should have strong understanding of UA in their skills set giving them a competitive advantage.
  • There is power in standardization and interoperability for businesses who want to operate globally
  • Governments could lead by example by supporting e-government services and systems in local
  • The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) within ICANN has already made a working group on UA issues.
  • Through the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) and ICANN, efforts have been made to further advance UA but it has not been enough
  • The introduction of Hindi email addresses by the local government of Rajasthan, India, has led to be able to communicate directly with 7 million people who had ASCII email addresses but were unable to operate them

Demand side

  • UA is a tool for end-users to enrich their online experiences
  • Awareness can be raised by targeting and doing outreach towards specific groups, such as governments or local initiatives. Local and regional applications would benefit local and regional users
  • Targeted capacity building could be offered on how the DNS works and operates, and why UA is relevant.
  • UA could also be integrated in university courses for social sciences, internet governance, international relations and computer sciences
  • Despite over 2 million registered domain names in China, most browsers, social media and messaging platforms do not support IDNs making their use not practical as potential traffic and customers might be lost
  • Chinese Domain Names Initiative (CDNI) was founded in January 2020 by registries, registrars, industry associates and internet companies to promote a better understanding of UA and move froward together.

 

 

3. Key Takeaways

Approaches and solutions towards raising awareness of the benefits of UA are multifold. The main challenge seems to be a lack of knowledge among the technical community and end-users about the existence of UA. There is a need to change the attitude of stakeholders towards UA implementation and realization of a truly multilingual internet and invest in long-term social and economic benefits. Overall, a multistakeholder effort is needed for both the supply-side and demand-sides to work in cooperation. Keeping the internet secure, stable and interoperable should be at the forefront of every long-term decision taken by all relevant stakeholders.

 

From the suppliers’ perspective, developers, major internet companies and other technical actors need to understand and prioritize UA readiness. Through technical training and other awareness raising initiatives, the private sector could be made to see the long-term financial and technical benefits of UA and close the communication gap between domain name markets and popular internet applications. Furthermore, UA should in collaboration with academia and universities, be incorporated in educational degrees before workers reach the job-market. 

The public sector has a major role to play in the awareness raising and adoption of UA. Leading by example, the public sector can drive UA readiness by providing internationalized domains and email addresses on their webpages to their citizens in local languages and scripts. Through procurement, the public sector can also accelerate the adoption of UA by technical partners through UA-friendly policies.

From the end-user perspective, there is a need for more education on the existence and possibilities provided by UA. Diverse approaches can be adopted in promoting different components of UA to different stakeholders and regions. End-users can actively communicate with internet companies and internet providers and demonstrate that there is a demand for UA.

6. Final Speakers

Speaker 1: Ajay Data, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: 
Akinori Maemura, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 3: Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: 
Walter Wu, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group

Moderator: Maria Kolesnikova, Technical Community, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator: Dennis Tan, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

Gender issues were not addressed during this workshop.