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[gnso-rn-wg] RE: 2 Letter Top-Level Domains

  • To: <gnso-rn-wg@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [gnso-rn-wg] RE: 2 Letter Top-Level Domains
  • From: "Patrick Jones" <patrick.jones@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 15:23:07 -0800

Below is an email from Kim Davies in IANA responding to an inquiry on
potential two-letter TLDs. This is one subcategory within the single and
two-character report. I thought this might be useful for the full Working


-----Original Message-----
From: Kim Davies [mailto:kim.davies@xxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 3:17 PM
To: Patrick Jones
Subject: 2 Letter Top-Level Domains

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your enquiry on the policy relating to two-letter top-level

RFC 1591, sect 2 reads:

    "In the Domain Name System (DNS) naming of computers there is a
    hierarchy of names.  The root of system is unnamed.  There are a set
    of what are called "top-level domain names" (TLDs).  These are the
    generic TLDs (EDU, COM, NET, ORG, GOV, MIL, and INT), and the two
    letter country codes from ISO-3166."

As any possible two-letter combination is eligible to be allocated or
reserved in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 standard in the future, the working
group is strongly encouraged not to consider using these possibilities
for other applications. There is a risk of collisions between such
allocations, and future ISO-3166 assignments, and in such cases would
mean ICANN is unable to grant a ccTLD to a valid country.

IANA has, since the introduction of the DNS, relied upon the
determinations within the ISO-3166 standard to identify what constitutes
a country, and what is the appropriate two-letter code for that country.
This shields the organisation from making value judgements that would be
very political, and instead lets and independent third party decide (the
ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency, which is guided by the United Nations
Statistics Office). On this matter, RFC 1591 is clear:

    "The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is
    not a country.

    The selection of the ISO 3166 list as a basis for country code
    top-level domain names was made with the knowledge that ISO has a
    procedure for determining which entities should be and should not
    be on that list."

The ISO-3166 standard is not static, and evolves with changes to
countries and their territories. Most importantly, new codes are added
for new regions and countries. Just this year "AX", "ME" and "RS" have
been new additions. One can assume there will be more changes in the
future that we can not predict.

If a conflict is introduced between a newly created ccTLD code, and an
allocated gTLD, IANA's neutrality would be compromised. It would either
need to deprive a country of a country-code top-level domain, or it
would need to stop adhering to the ISO 3166 standard which would be
problematic. It would represent a key divergence from one of the most
central tenets of ccTLD policy.

I hope this is of assistance.

Kim Davies
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

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