Comments and question on the proposed revision to the IDN guidelines
The following are comments on the the proposal for "Guidelines for the Implementation of Internationalized Domain Names version 2". They are in response to the request for comments posted. These comments are a joint posting from Paul Hoffman and Bret Fausett. 1) The proposal would benefit greatly from a statement of purpose. Many parts of the proposal appear intended to deal with domain name spoofing below the TLD; however, the proposal fall very short of that goal by limiting itself to IDNs. If the proposal is intended to address domain name spoofing, a problem not limited to IDNs, ICANN should state whether it also intends to create new proposals about potential spoofing within the ASCII character set (such as "paypa1.com", "icannn.org", and "paypal.co"). If the proposal is not about name spoofing, a clear statement of its purpose is greatly needed. 2) The proposal is titled "Guidelines," but it contains many statements about what a registry must and must not do; the "Guidelines" are replete with words such as "will" and "must." ICANN should either change the title of the document or change the imperative verbs to ones that sound more like guidelines. In specific, the proposal never says what will happen if a particular TLD administrator does not follow the guidelines. Will ICANN re-assign the TLD to an administrator that agrees to follow the guidelines? If not, what possible penalties will be meted out for variance from the guidelines? For example, both MuseDoma and VeriSign contributed to the revisions for version 2, but both are out of compliance with both version 1 and version 2 of the guidelines. In addition, many large ccTLDs have ignored the requirements of version 1, and yet no action appears to have been taken against them. The "Guidelines" also refer to "top-level domain registries," a broad term which encompasses both gTLD and ccTLD registries. If the "Guidelines" were intended to apply to ccTLD registries, then the mandatory words such as "will" and "must," as described above, should be revised to more accurately reflect the role of ICANN in setting policy for ccTLDs. 3) Version 1 of the guidelines has been in existence for two years, and now ICANN is proposing to change it by adding many more rules. To the best of our knowledge, however, ICANN has not previously published a report on the successes and failures in version 1. From the very small number of TLDs represented at <http://www.iana.org/assignments/idn/registered.htm>, it appears that version 1 is thinly-implemented. The proposal for version 2 of the guidelines are significantly more restrictive than version 1. It seems unlikely that adding many new restrictions will make version 2 more successful than version 1. A description of both ICANN's and TLD registry operators' experience with Version 1 would provide necessary information to evaluate the appropriateness of the new rules now under consideration. 4) Not only do the proposed revisions not have a report about the success or failure of the version 1 guidelines, they provide no list of the changes between versions and why each was made. Giving the complete list of additional restrictions and the logic behind them could help bring out more useful discussion. 5) Paragraph 6 of the proposed "Guidelines" purports to place a mandatory obligation on TLD registries to participate in a loose and undefined "collaboration" with other entities. While collaboration and consensus are laudable goals, the undefined obligation describes no forum in which such discussions should take place and no process by which to reach possible agreement on IDN implementation and registration practices. We recommend that ICANN create an appropriate cross-Supporting Organization forum, involving both the ccNSO and the gNSO, designed to facilitate the recommended collaboration. Thank you for considering these comments.