Another Transition Plan Proposal

Cary Karp ck at
Wed Dec 16 13:19:17 CET 2009

Quoting John:

> Procedural question, just out of curiosity and independent of
> other issues. A BCP like the one you describe would require
> either a significant charter revision (to add the task) or a new
> WG. 

There is no way to override the autonomous authority that a zone
administrator has for implementing such things as support for IDN
without rescinding the basic tenet of the DNS that distributes such
responsibility together with zone delegation. To be sure, implementation
guidelines can be enormously useful in ensuring reasonably homogeneous
practices Net wide. With one single but rather important exception,
however, the acceptance of guidelines from any source is a voluntary
act. As far as the gTLDs are concerned, compliance with the ICANN IDN
Guidelines (to which I've already made several references) is a
contractual obligation.

I am a signatory to such a contract (.MUSEUM) and oversee that TLD's
day-to-day operation. I also hold the pen in the group that develops the
Guidelines and am, or have been, a member of other IDN advisory groups
within ICANN, with authorial or editorial involvement in the texts they
produce. I apologize for the immodesty of this recital, but feel it
necessary as a disclaimer for the following text. It may, however, also
be taken as a "claimer" of a pretty good degree of understanding of the
practical operational and policy details that it addresses.

The gTLDs cannot undertake any commitment to implement comparable IDN
recommendations codified elsewhere, unless there is an absolute
guarantee that those recommendations will never be at odds with the
ICANN Guidelines. (It is hard to imagine how any such assurance could be
provided, but individual registries obviously can and do build on the
Guidelines in accordance with the needs of their local constituencies.)
A good number of ccTLDs have also voluntarily accepted the Guidelines
and contribute to their development. There have also been reassuring
indications that other zone administrators have an eye on them and find
them useful.

I would therefore like to propose that the group that maintains the
ICANN Guidelines (many of whom are in our own midst) be accepted as the
functional equivalent of any IDN BCP WG that our WG might consider
spawning. The mandate of the ICANN group ensures that its members have
immediate experience with the operation of registries that support IDN,
and have dealt with policy and technical issues that are easily as
intricate as the ones still under consideration here, in the actual DNS
production environment.

The authorship group is convened by Tina Dam, who also sets its agenda.
I'm normally the one to block out new text for the group's consideration
and can guarantee that the wisdom generated in the IDNABIS WG will be
explicitly reflected and acknowledged. ICANN provides a venue for open
public commentary on documents such as the Guidelines, which are
formally approved by the ICANN Board (several members are also here)
before entering into effect. The Board also provides a buffer for the
ever-so-delicate political aspects of making recommendations to
governments in matters that they regard as their own sovereign concern.
ICANN has additional relevant communication channels that lack parallel
in the IETF but will be harnessed if the procedure I'm suggesting is

This all means that the concerns of our WG are known on the ICANN side
without need for constructing mediation channels. I can also make sure
that regular reports will appear on this list about the details of
Guideline development that are of present concern (either simply by
doing the job myself or recruiting another member of the Guidelines
group for it). These reports can easily also be forwarded to the DNSOPS
mailing list.

> Would people like/intend to block the existing documents until such a
> BCP can be developed and consensus received on it?  Or is it possible
> to get the current documents out and then start work on the BCP?

The protocol statement has to be a common-denominator instrument that
can be applied to the administration of all zones. Implementation
requirements vary intrinsically from zone to zone in response to local
needs. It is therefore highly advisable, if not flat out necessary, to
articulate implementation detail in a separate vehicle.

I hope that I have described a ready alternative that will allow us to
move forward on both fronts. Unless we wish to see major portions of our
documents prove irrelevant, we'd better finalize them well enough in
advance of the appearance of A-labels in the root zone for them to be of
use in establishing the operational policies of the designated TLDs (to
say nothing of proposals that are currently being drafted for
IDN-labeled TLDs in broader generic contexts).


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