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We must select the correct IDN string for Russia to use in its ccTLD. That is the Cyrillic string "py".

  • To: <idn-cctld-issues@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: We must select the correct IDN string for Russia to use in its ccTLD. That is the Cyrillic string "py".
  • From: "Alexei Sozonov" <sozonov@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 19:46:13 -0800



We must select the correct IDN string for Russia to use in its ccTLD. That is 
the Cyrillic string â.ÐÐâ.


Historically over thousands of years, Russians have viewed the name of their 
country â of course in Cyrillic â as âÐÐÐÐâ. And the pronunciation 
in Russian of âÐÐÐÐâ [âROOSâ] is similar to the way one pronounces 
âRussiaâ in English and also generally around the world.


To date the ASCII ccTLD designated by ICANN for Russia, based on ISO 3166-1, 
and used by Russians for more than a decade, is the string â.ruâ. This is 
naturally pronounced âROOâ by all Russians, as in âkangaROOâ. The 
Cyrillic string â.ÐÐâ, being a natural shortening of âÐÐÐÐâ, is 
also pronounced âROOâ. Thus for more than a decade, Russian Internet users 
have always pronounced the ending of every domestic web-site as âdot rooâ. 
And they have named the Russian segment of the Internet âRoo-netâ.


In virtually all conversation, writings, advertisements and billboards, all 
over the nation, the transliteration/translation of any web-site identifier or 
of an email address has been â.ÐÐâ â the Cyrillic âROOâ. This has 
incurred billions of rubles spent over decades and has become ingrained in use 
by the 25 million Russian Internet users and the 250 million Russian population 
at large.


To a Russian speaker it is unthinkable that any ICANN-designated IDN TLD 
intended for the country Russia be anything other than â.ÐÐâ. That is 
simply unthinkable.


Moreover, the Cyrillic â.ÐÐâ now for long years has, in fact, already 
become firmly entrenched in Russian use of the Internet.


ICANN showed no interest in addressing the needs of IDN worldwide when the IDN 
technology was widely available and tested in Asia, from 1999. In Russia, as in 
indigenous launches in China, Arabia and elsewhere, an indigenous IDN TLD 
Cyrillic â.ÐÐâ was launched several years ago. â.ÐÐâ has been 
successfully operational since then. The many facets of Russiaâs Internet 
community have supported it. That includes most Registrars and Resellers, and 
many ISPs are supporting. For example the dominant national Cybercafe chain, 
with thousands of outlets, has supported it for over five years.


With many thousands of names registered, â.ÐÐâ also enjoys widespread 
media support. Most significantly, corporations and other institutions have 
registered these â.ÐÐâ domains and have been including them in their 
advertising campaigns for years. The deployed technology follows the IDNA 
standard, recommended by IETF since 2003 and approved by ICANN. Critically and 
very responsibly, Russia has taken the conservative approach of registering 
ONLY Cyrillic characters in front of the â.ÐÐâ.


Now, ICANN in the past year has stepped up belatedly to solve the IDN 
âmessâ, finally â a step we wholeheartedly applaud. In discussion of 
various âtracksâ for deploying country-code IDN equivalents, there has been 
a suggestion that â.ÐÐâ should not be designated to Russia. The grounds? 
It is visually similar to the existing ASCII ccTLD string â.PYâ, assigned 
to Paraguay and used by this respected nation for over a decade.


This argument holds that someone could register a string composed of Cyrillic 
characters preceding the ASCII â.PYâ. The purpose would be intentional 
confusion with another registration, but fully Cyrillic, one with the same 
preceding characters followed of course by a Cyrillic IDN â.ÐÐâ, not 
ASCII. Of course this is called âhomographic spoofingâ.


To any native Russian speaker the difference between â.PYâ and â.ÐÐâ 
is obvious. But beyond that, almost all this undesirable homographic spoofing 
goes away if ICANN had previously followed the patently obvious guideline IETF 
expected, when it formalized IDNA:  that any and all IDN domain names must be 
in a SINGLE script throughout. A wise deployment would have restricted 
registration to ONLY the characters normally used in a single language script.


Unicode may be an all-encompassing character-set, and many European languages 
do share a large Latin character sub-set. This may have encouraged IDN.ascii 
composite domains, during the original Versign testbed in 2000 and in the 
formal deployments, later, after 2003 and continuing today. But if wisdom had 
prevailed instead, the rules for Paraguayâs â.PYâ would have allowed for 
registering only ASCII characters relevant to Spanish or Guaranà in front 
(Guaranà is Paraguay's indigenous language and uses European Roman 
characters). And Russiaâs Cyrillic â.ÐÐâ would have only Russian 
Cyrillic characters in front.



We in Russia exercised early and continuing prudence with our â.ÐÐâ where 
only Cyrillic characters are allowed to precede the Cyrillic TLD. If ICANN had 
helped us with similar restraint in its practice, most of the current 
homographic spoofing would have been eliminated. Homographic spoofing would be 
seen for the âRed Herringâ argument that it is. And the needs of Russiaâs 
hundreds of millions would not be sidelined owing to historical errors.


Needless to say, we donât want at stake inside Russia the attractiveness and 
fairness of ICANN as legitimate world arbiter for the Internet.


Even if the current final draft on policy for IDN gTLDs continues to allow 
mixed-script registrations between first and top levels in the domain name â 
which could legalize them â a modicum of sense prevailed in finally 
disallowing mixed script within a level itself. This does illustrate that 
distinctions among language scripts must and, so, can be made.


As no deployments of IDN gTLDs have occurred yet, it is still not too late to 
reverse this fundamental error for IDN gTLDs. Since the debate on IDN ccTLDs is 
at an earlier stage, if not for IDN gTLDs, at least for IDN ccTLDs caution 
should and must be exercised. Only a single script should be allowed all the 
way through first and top levels.



In short, we applaud ICANNâs renewed, if belated, interest in IDN TLDs. And 
we are happy that ICANN is considering the needs of Russians. Russians want, 
and ICANN must designate to Russians, â.ÐÐâ.



In fact, Paraguayâs NIC (NIC.PY) has, on its own, wisely and responsibly 
obviated the historical error. On their own, they have allowed only 
registrations in Latin characters. And except for a small percentage of 
domains, they also have only registered third level domains behind com.py, 
net.py, edu.py, org.py, mil.py, and gov.py. Of course that is inhospitable to 
spoofing, if Paraguay did not limit registrations only to Latin characters â 
which in fact it does limit.


On its own Paraguay has conducted its NIC responsibly, so there indeed is no 
barrier to Paraguay and Russia cooperating happily together â Paraguay with 
â.PYâ and Russia with â.ÐÐâ.


Those who would put the red herring of homographic spoofing as an obstacle fail 
to understand the fundamentals.


(1) While â.PYâ and â.ÐÐâ may be visually confusing, spoofing can be 
eliminated with suitable and simple conditions in the agreement with end-users. 
In the unlikely event, spoofersâ names will be blocked and taken from them, 
then offered to the good-will owner of the name that is already registered and 
visually similar.


(2) Spoofing can be vastly reduced if ICANN simply elects to allow only a 
single script all the way through first and top levels. This would just follow 
the good practice of the Paraguay NIC.


Spoofing is a crime and should be treated accordingly. It is monstrous, 
however, to hold a whole nation hostage to petty thievery. That indeed would 
not be the right policy. We do believe that remote possibilities, defused as 
above, will not derail ICANN from leading the internet Community in the right 


Yours Sincerely,

Alexei Sozonov

Russian Language Name Internet Consortium, www.rlnic.ru 

Sergey Sharikov

Regtime.net, ICANN Accredited Registrar, www.regtime.net 

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