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NRIs Collaborative Session on IDNs 

Multilingual Internet: IDNs under the magnifying glass



  1. Macedonia IGF (FYRO) 
  2. Nepal IGF
  3. Russian IGF
  4. SEEDIG 

Session title
Multilingual Internet: IDNs under the magnifying glass

Session format and timing
This session will be 90 minutes long, and will be organized as a round-table, allowing all in situ and online participants to contribute to the discussions.

Content of the session
This session has a twofold objective: to raise more awareness on Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) and their relevance in the quest for a more inclusive Internet; and to explore challenges (and possible solutions) related to the implementation and use of IDNs.

In this context, the session will be structured in three parts:

Segment 1: IDNs: what and why? Brief introduction to IDNs.
Segment 2: IDNs through the eyes of end-users. This segment will be focused on end-users, and their perceptions of, experiences with, and expectations from IDNs. 
Segment 3: IDNs behind the scenes. The technical community (registries, registrars, ICANN, the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, etc) and the private sector (search engines, e-mail service providers, etc.) will be invited to talk about what they do in the area of IDNs, and how they (can)respond to end-users’ needs and concerns related to IDN usability. This segment will include experience sharing (from existing IDN registries, Internet companies, etc), discussions on challenges faced in implementing IDNs, overviews of the work done to address such challenges, etc. Other stakeholders involved in the promotion of IDNs will be included in this segment as well (e.g. governments, IGOs, etc.).

Depending on the level of interaction in the room, segments 2 and 3 could be combined into a Q&A-type discussion, where there will be a dialogue among end-users, registries, registrars, Internet companies, other technical organisations, etc. 

The session will rely on a strong moderation (2 moderators) and several resource persons (to be identified by the co-organisers) whose role will be to help set the scene for discussions, by sharing national and regional perspectives.  A set of questions will also be developed, to help engage participants in the discussion.
The rapporteur(s) will present key messages from the session in the last  minutes of the session.
The session aims for fully interactive discussion with all present participants.

Speakers/Resource persons
Propose speakers here, that later can be confirmed.
Segment 1:
Ram Mohan, Universal Acceptance Steering Group (tbc)
Sarmad Hussain, IDN Programs Director, ICANN (tbc) 
Segment 2:
Lianna Galstyan, Internet Society Armenia
Segment 3: 
Mikhail Anisimov, Coordination Center for TLDs .RU/.РФ
Igor Mirceski, MARnet (tbc)
Google/Yandex (tbc)

Relevance of the issue
IDNs were launched with the aim to make the Internet more inclusive, by giving users the possibility to access and register domain names in their own languages and scripts. IDNs overall objective is to empower more people to use the Internet. They are especially relevant to the regions using the non-Latin script. Many countries in the Eastern European region, but also in Asia Pacific have direct experiences on this, given the diversity of scripts (i.e. Armenian, Cyrillic, Georgian, Greek, Latin. In some countries, IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) have been implemented (Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia FYR (.МКД), Russia (.РФ), Serbia, etc.) or are in the process of being implemented (Greece), while other countries have announced their intention to implement IDNs in the future (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina). In addition, the New gTLD Program launched by ICANN in 2012 opened the door for IDN generic top-level domain (gTLDs), such as .сайт “.website”, .онлайн “.online”, etc.. But there is a need to raise more awareness and promote a better understanding of IDN-related challenges, in order to ensure that the initial objective of IDNs is achieved.

Interventions/Engagement with participants (onsite and online)
Several guiding questions will help frame the discussions. Examples below.

Segment 1: 
What are IDNs? Why and how did this idea came to life?
Segment 2: 
A live quiz (using an online tool such as Mentimeter) will be prepared for session participants to answer on the spot. It will include questions related to the actual use of IDNs (whether session participants use IDNs and why, whether they find value in IDNs, what advantages and disadvantages they see in IDNs, challenges related to the use of IDNs, recommendations for improving IDNs, etc.). The survey conducted by SEEDIG in early 2017 could serve as a source of inspiration in developing this quiz.
Segment 3:
For registries: Why embarking on a journey to introduce IDNs? What was/is your main motivation? | Share one challenge you have faced during this journey and what you have done or are doing to address it. | Are you satisfied with what you have achieved after launching the IDN? | What challenges do you still face regarding the usability of your IDN? Regarding the /РФ domain experience I should say that the main challenge we are facing is some technical restrictions with IDN e-mail, or restrictions in using these domains in some registration forms and so on. We strongly believe that if vendors could solve such kind of problems there will be another giant leap in number of registrations and usage
For registrars: Why including IDNs in your offering? | What is the demand for IDN domain names, among your client base? | What are the main complains you get from your clients when it comes to IDNs? | What is, in your view, the main aspects that needs to be addressed/improved, to have IDNs more widely used.
For Internet companies (Google, etc.): What is your perspective on the usability of IDNs?
For ICANN/Universal Acceptance Steering Group: What is ‘universal acceptance’ and how do we get there? 
For Governments/IGOs: Why are IDNs among your concerns? 

Geographical, Stakeholder and Gender Diversity
The session will not have speakers as such, but the co-organisers will make sure that the session respects diversity criteria, both among the resource persons, and throughout the overall session discussions.

Onsite moderator(s)
Sébastien Pensis, EURid (tbc)
Online moderator(s)
Aleksandar Icokaev

Sorina Teleanu

Online participation logistics
Webex and Twitter will be used to gather input from online participants.

Discussion facilitation
The session will rely on strong moderation, with two moderators facilitating discussions among all session participants.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411