IDN Fast-Track Process to be launched

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organization responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and internet protocol addresses, has announced the approval of the new Internationalized Domain Name Fast-Track Process at its annual meeting in Seoul, Korea.
According to ICANN’s October 30 2009 news release, the Fast-Track Process will be launched on November 16 2009. It will allow nations and territories to apply for internet extensions that reflect their names and are made up of characters from their national languages. If the applications meet the relevant criteria (including government and community support, and a stability evaluation), the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations.
In the news release, ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush stated that:

"[r]ight now, internet address endings are limited to Latin characters – A to Z. But the Fast-Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."
The proposed implementation plan, which was released on September 30 2009, sets out the detailed requirements in respect of the Fast-Track Process. These include:
  • eligibility - with one exception (the European Union), the requestor must be an 'ISO 3166-1' recognized country or territory;
  • string criteria - the string must be a minimum of two Unicode characters long, and a maximum of 63 characters;
  • language and script criteria - the language must be an official language in the country or territory, and have legal status or serve as a language of administration.
  • meaningfulness - the string must be the name or part of the name of the country or territory, or a short-form designation thereof;
  • number of strings - with some exceptions, there is a limit of one string per official language/script per country or territory;
  • certain additional technical requirements; and
  • a 'domain name system stability' verification requirement.
As envisioned in the proposed implementation plan, the Fast-Track Process is divided into three distinct stages:
  • the preparation stage;
  • the string evaluation stage; and
  • the delegation evaluation stage.
Following this procedure, when the requestor has prepared supporting documentation and the selected string has been approved, the delegation process will involve assessing whether the sponsoring organization is a “qualified trustee for the local internet community”. According to media reports quoting ICANN officials, it is expected that such internationalized domain names will be approved and in use by mid-2010.
Yuri Chumak, Cameron MacKendrick LLP, Toronto

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