New Attempt to Close on IDNABIS Charter (v2)
vint at google.com
Mon Mar 31 11:55:57 CEST 2008
We have been discussing a lot about IDNs in the mailing list, a lot
of the discussion is actually about specifics of the various draft
documents intended to form the basis for the work of the proposed
IDNABIS working group but a fair amount has been about the text of
I have made what I hope are considered small revisions to the earlier
proposed charter to try to take into account comments made by a
number of you on the list.
The revision which I am calling IDNABIS Charter (v2) is shown below.
I imagine that there may still be comments about this version but I
ask you to consider whether further amendment to the charter is as
productive as getting to work on the documents themselves. Some
concerns have been expressed about conditions for terminating the
working group and re-chartering. I recognize but perhaps don't fully
appreciate the hazards here, but have re-worded slightly these
conditions. As the proposed working group chair, I am prepared to do
the best I can to manage this process and to defend the work of the
working group against re-chartering except under very significant
deviation from the proposed framework in the referenced draft
I don't quite know how to word the request but I would like to ask
the AD, Lisa Dusseault, to submit this version to the IESG for
approval no later than April 7, assuming that there are no further
fundamental issues taken with the text. As to "fundamental issues", I
suggest that Lisa and I be the arbiters of that for purposes of
finalizing this charter for submission to the IESG.
With thanks to all on the list who have participated in improving the
Chair(s): Vinton G. Cerf
Applications Area Directors:
Lisa Dusseault (ldusseault at commerce.net)
Chris Newman (Chris.Newman at sun.com)
Applications Area Advisor:
Lisa Dusseault (ldusseault at commerce.net)
General Discussion: idna-update at alvestrand.no
The original Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) WG specified rules
for the use of characters other than Latin A(a)-Z(z), digits 0-9 and
the hyphen (“-“) in domain names in RFC3490, RFC3491 and RFC3492 in
2002 (published in 2003 and often referenced collectively as
These documents depend on RFC 3454 and were tied to Unicode version
3.2. An update to the current version (5.x) is required to
accommodate additional scripts. In addition, experience has shown
that significant improvements could be made in the protocol as
This WG is chartered to decouple IDNA from specific versions of
Unicode using algorithms that define validity based on Unicode
properties. It is recognized that some explicit exceptions may be
necessary in any case, but attempts will be made to minimize these
- Separate requirements for valid IDNs at registration time
(insertion of names into DNS zone files), vs. at resolution time
(looking up those names)
- Review, and if necessary revise, the algorithms and rules for
handling right to left character sequences in an IDN context to allow
labels based on additional scripts and languages and to make
presentation as predictable as reasonably possible.
- Permit use of some scripts that were inadvertently excluded by
the original protocols.
- Ensure practical stability of validity algorithms for IDNs.
The constraints of the original IDN WG still apply to IDNABIS, namely
to avoid disturbing the current use and operation of the domain name
system, and for the DNS to continue to allow any system to resolve
any domain name in a consistent way. The client-based approach of the
original IDN work will be maintained -- substantially new protocols
or mechanisms are not in scope. In particular, IDNs continue to use
the "xn--" prefix and the same ASCII-compatible encoding, and the
bidirectional algorithm follows the same basic design.
The specifications are initially organized as four documents:
overview and rationale, protocol, table algorithm, and improvements
to the bidirectional algorithm. These documents are to be used as the
basis for the discussion of the general direction of the work.
This working group will be providing extended public review of the
output of a design team that has been working on improvement of the
This review-based approach is being used in part because of the way
the work was undertaken by the team; in particular, the design team
has been working with IETF visibility and has solicited and received
significant amounts of technical review already from IETF
participants and from others including experts in the Unicode
specifications and the use of scripts in languages. If the public
review provided by this Working Group confirms the basic method
outlined in the input documents, it is expected that the working
group will be able to respond with any needed changes and close in a
short period of time. If technical issues arise that indicate a
fundamentally different approach must be taken from the one outlined
above, it is anticipated that this working group would close, and a
new one with an appropriate charter would be considered.
This work is intended to specify an improved means to produce and use
stable and unambiguous IDN identifiers.
There are a variety of generally unsolvable problems, notably the
problem of characters that are confusingly similar in appearance
(often known as the "phishing" problem) that are not specifically
part of the scope of the WG although some of the preliminary results
of the design team suggest that the improvements contemplated in the
specifications might mitigate some of the ways in which the current
IDNA specifications can be abused for phishing purposes.
While it is referenced from the original IDNA2003 package, the
original Stringprep specification, RFC 3454, is not formally part of
the IDNA package and will not be altered by this work.
The work will update or obsolete RFC 3490. It is not expected to
continue to use Nameprep (RFC 3491). Nameprep is used by other
specifications; determining how (or whether) to update those
specifications and, consequently, the long-term status of Nameprep,
are not part of this effort. The method for ASCII-compatible ("ACE")
encoding of IDNs, "Punycode" (RFC 3492) will not be revised by this WG.
Subject to the more general constraints described above, the WG is
permitted to consider changes that are not strictly backwards-
compatible. For any such change that is recommended, it is expected
to document the reasons for the change, the characters affected, and
possible transition strategies.
The assumptions outlined above are considered critical to the WG
constituted by this charter. The WG will stop, close, and recommend
that a new charter be generated if it concludes that any of the
following are necessary to meet its goals:
(i) A change to the "punycode" algorithm or to the ACE approach
to encoding names in the DNS.
(ii) A change to the ACE prefix from "xn--"
(iii) A change to the basic approach taken in the design team
documents (Namely: independence from Unicode version and elimination
of character mapping in the protocol)
Goals and milestones:
Apr 08: WG formation
May 08: Decision on form and structure of the WG document set
Sep 08: WG Last Call on WG document set
Nov 08: IETF Last Call on WG document set
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