ICANN to discuss IDNs, kiting, this week

ICANN is meeting this week in Brazil to discuss several key initiatives, including the internationalization of domain names.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will discuss key projects and initiatives at a meeting this week, including the internationalization of the domain name system and a new, lucrative Web site registration practice that some object to.

Other topics on the agenda for ICANN's 27th International meeting, to be held in Sao Paulo, include the group's strategic plan for 2007 to 2009 and next year's operating plan.

Also on the discussion table are a workshop on IPV6 that will address what this new Internet protocol is and why it's needed, as well as a forum on the introduction of TLDs (top level domains).

The meeting, which began Monday and ends Friday, will feature over 30 sessions and workshops. Attendees include engineers, businesspeople, government officials and private-sector executives from around the world.

A major focus this week will be on the Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) initiative, a years-long project that aims to revamp the DNS system so that it can support domain names in a broad range of languages and alphabets that can't be represented via the ASCII character set, such as Arabic and Chinese. In Sao Paulo, ICANN will issue a status report on the IDN project and hold a training and a tutorial session.

So far, through lab tests and meetings, ICANN is finding that the process to broaden the DNS' support for non-ASCII characters will be more difficult than originally thought, ICANN Chief Executive Officer and President Paul Twomey said Monday during a press conference. "This is really hard," he said, adding that ICANN hopes to have a technical solution in place by the end of 2007. "It has to be done carefully so that it works for the entire world."

Attendees will also discuss a recent Web-site name registration practice called "kiting" and "tasting" that is generating much controversy. It involves the wholesale purchase of expired domain names, and the subsequent cancellation of most of them during a 5-day "grace" period allowed as part of the process. If canceled before the 5 days are up, the registration fee is fully refunded. Those who engage in this practice only keep the domain names that attract enough traffic to justify their registration fee, and proceed to "park" those Web sites and load them with pay-per-click ads.

"There's a whole discussion going on in the community about whether there should be anything done about this," Twomey said. "There are people who think this isn't an appropriate behavior. [Others] think this is just the market at work."

Those opposed to "kiting" are suggesting that ICANN impose some sort of fee whenever a registration is canceled before the grace period is over, a move they feel will discourage the practice.

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