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ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach

Ram Mohan

Today, the ITU launched a new survey asking member states, ccTLDs and other ITU member organizations to provide answers to a specialized questionnaire asking for their experiences on the use of IDNs.

The ITU states that it is reaching out to ccTLDs to "collect information and experiences on Internationalized Domain Names under ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) around the globe."

One of the goals of this survey is to collate information on the "needs and practices" of each ccTLD that is surveyed — so as to compile a report from the ITU that speaks to the implementation of IDNs around the world.

Such a report would indeed be useful, especially if the actual survey responses are provided "as-is" and not editorialized. My concern is that real data will be lost in editing, and we will end up in simply having a spin-doctored version of reality. Poland's Andrzej Bartosiewicz, who runs the .pl domain, is collecting the information on behalf of the ITU, and is presumably editing it.

It's particularly striking that ITU has targeted ccTLDs, since they can (and some already have) implement alternate versions of IDNs that work in just individual geographical regions.

"The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Florianópolis, 2004) in Resolution 48 instructed Study Group 17 (Security, languages and telecommunication software) to study Internationalized Domain Names (IDN). The belief is that IDN implementation will contribute to easier and greater use of the Internet in those countries where the native or official languages are not represented in ASCII characters."

The ITU is asking some interesting and relevant questions. Examples:

  • Do you consider IANA Language Tables Repository as the source of information on IDN implementation?
  • Does your ccTLD registry register IDN in Unicode or ACE (ASCII Compatible Encoding) form?
  • Does your ccTLD registry associate IDN registered with a language or script tag?
  • Is the registration policy of your ccTLD registry:
    a. a script-based one;
    b. a language-based one
  • With regard to confusable characters issue, did your ccTLD registry implement equivalent domain name registration as a bundle or other solution?

The planned ICANN technical test for IDNs at the root, the creation of policy and technical groups to study IDNs, and the activities of the ITU underline just how hot this topic is. Reports indicate that close to 500,000 second level IDNs have been sold - so, in addition to the political and local demand for IDNs, an economic and marketplace demand seems to also exist.

ICANN is at a delicate point in the IDN debates now. Many ccTLDs are looking at China and the Arab League experiments and wondering if they should follow suit. ICANN needs to show a clear bias for action and learning, and take demonstrable steps to establish leadership and guidance in this area. Anything less and it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant for IDNs.

References: ITU questionnaire [MS Word]

By Ram Mohan, Executive Vice President & CTO, Afilias

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Multilinguism, Security, Top-Level Domains

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Comments

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 01, 2006 9:43 PM PDT

> Such a report would indeed be useful, especially if the actual
> survey responses are provided “as-is” and not editorialized. My
> concern is that real data will be lost in editing, and we will end
> up in simply having a spin-doctored version of reality.

Now that's a strong statement, Ram ..

Providing raw data responses from this survey - well, quite a lot of the internet governance organizations do post all received responses to a survey / request for comments, publicly on their website.

However the real value of a survey is not pushing a ton of raw data at users, it is collating and arranging those results, and then analyzing them .. what you term as editorialization, or even spin doctoring.

So who, according to your fears, is going to spindoctor here? Andrzej from .pl?  the ITU staff? Some as yet unknown economies that are part of the ITU?  I would surely appreciate some editorialization on that.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Richard Hill  –  Jun 01, 2006 11:15 PM PDT

ITU-T had previously (2003) conducted a generic survey on Member States' Experiences with ccTLDs, the raw data and a summary table (purely factual, no interpretation) are publicly accessible at:

http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/studygroups/com02/surveys_cctld.html

Best,
Richard Hill
Counsellor, ITU-T Study Group 2

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Jun 02, 2006 12:58 AM PDT

Providing raw data responses from this survey - well, quite a lot of the internet governance organizations do post all received responses to a survey / request for comments, publicly on their website.

And that's why this is useful.  The IDN debate is too big to only have edited answers.

However the real value of a survey is not pushing a ton of raw data at users, it is collating and arranging those results, and then analyzing them .. what you term as editorialization, or even spin doctoring.

Nothing wrong with doing the analysis and providing the perspective.  Just give me the raw data also.  ITU has done it before, let's keep that tradition alive.

So who, according to your fears, is going to spindoctor here?

Are you kidding me?  Assuming good responses, there will be excellent information to be gleaned and then spun.  I have no one to impugn - this is not an anti-ITU rant or a pro-ICANN post, rather it's a "Hey we better get as much info on IDN as possible" post

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Jun 02, 2006 1:00 AM PDT

Richard,
Thanks for posting the link - I've been there before and it's good data, and I hope this new survey and its interesting and relevant questions will provide similarly good answers in its data exhaust.

Regards,
Ram

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 02, 2006 1:42 AM PDT

Ram - you said:

My concern is that real data will be lost in editing, and we will end up in simply having a spin-doctored version of reality

And that is a quite valid concern - but my question was, who are the people associated with that survey, who are going to be spin doctoring it?

I assume, by spin doctoring, that you mean something like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_(politics)

In public relations, spin is a usually pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one's own favor of an event or situation. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Jun 02, 2006 2:01 AM PDT

Suresh, sorry to be obtuse, but you want me to say who's going to spin-doctor it?

Of course, those who want to take the information and build their own version of the facts from it.  If you're a company that is offering a special fix to some specific IDN woe that is not exactly standards compliant, hey, the spin of "i'll fix this problem that has been validated in an international study" is quite seductive.

As I said before, I do not have a conspiracy theory to mount.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 02, 2006 2:44 AM PDT

That's great.  You know something, Ram? 

If you point to a survey and say you're concerned its going to be spin doctored, it just might be a good idea to say that the people doing that survey are not the ones who are going to spin doctor it .. you see, that is the first conclusion that anybody reading such a statement will make.

As for random other people (vendors, conspiracy theory ICANN/ITU watchers, whoever) spin doctoring and interpreting the survey to suit their own ends .. well, that

1. Happens with just about everything that the ITU, ICANN or other international organizations releases

2. Is completely irrelevant to the actual document and any editorializing / conclusions drawn by the document's authors .. and can be mostly ignored.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Jun 02, 2006 9:10 AM PDT

I pointed to the editorial report out of survey results, rather than the survey itself.  While you read it to a conclusion that it impugns the survey collectors, I don't.  That random other people's opinions and spin from published/editorialized reports don't matter is quite an interesting point of view.

Are you really against having raw data published, or are you simply pursuing the point to its logical end point?  Richard Hill has already pointed to the ITUs history of publishing raw data, so my concern is alleviated; I don't have much more to say on the topic of spun results anymore.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 02, 2006 5:57 PM PDT

Please read what I said earlier.  The survey does provide raw data, as do other ITU surveys before this .. but there's far more value in the analyzed and edited final output.

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Andrzej Bartosiewicz (NASK)  –  Jun 08, 2006 1:30 AM PDT

Hi Ram,

I like you but you have exaggerated saying "Poland’s Andrzej Bartosiewicz, who runs the .pl domain, is collecting the information on behalf of the ITU, and is presumably editing it". Why haven't you asked me questions before submiting this article?

I'm not going to edit/alter responses. I'm going to propose analyses how to prepare the final report. The proceduress how to analyze data will be discussed at IDN mailing list and Study Group 17 meeting in Geneva (December 2006). Every ITU-T Member can participate in this process.

Raw data can be made public if agreed by TSB. I would prefere to have all responses public, but it's not my decision.

I hope Afilias will answer the questionnaire too...? It will be very useful to have not only ccTLDs answers but also gTLDs. You can check if I will "edit" your response ;)

See you in Marrakech at the ICANN meeting,
Andrzej Bartosiewicz

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Jun 08, 2006 3:27 AM PDT

Andrzej,
I tried to be careful to not imply that you would be modifying the comments, but I didn't know as I was writing the post.  Apologies if it came across the wrong way - that was *definitely* not my intent!

As I said in my article, this is a worthwhile survey and collects some really useful information.  I will be happy to answer the survey [although I don't think I'm on the survey mailing list and haven't been asked to respond so far :) ]

Like you, I would prefer to have all responses made public, and Richard Hill earlier in the comment thread has implied as much, which would satisfy one of my larger concerns.

By the way, I would have the exact same concern had the survey been conducted by another organization.

See you over a drink in Marrakech!

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ricardo Vaz Monteiro  –  Mar 14, 2007 1:31 PM PDT

Dear Mr Ram:

Why ITU would "collect information and experiences on Internationalized Domain Names under ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) around the globe" since ICANN is THE Institution in charge of domain names AND IDN"s ?

I mean, could you explain this movement from a political point of view ?

Thank-you in advance.

Best regards,

Ricardo Vaz Monteiro
Registro de dominio

Re: ITU Launches IDN Survey and ccTLD Outreach Ram Mohan  –  Mar 14, 2007 2:23 PM PDT

Dear Mr. Montero,
I think ITU's study has some value, especially because it brings together information that ICANN does not currently compile.

I look forward to seeing the survey data once it is complete.

-Ram

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