In our previous article, we explained the essential concepts and terms related to Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs). As part of our IDN Jargon Buster series, we would like to bring you further to the essential knowledge of IDNs.
This second article of IDN Jargon Buster aims to inform you about general information on organizations and actors involved in the domain name and IDN environments. This is equally important with our previous information about general terms as these organisations and actors play significant roles not only in ensuring the governance of domain names but more importantly, they play substantial roles in enabling a critical function for the internet world as we know it now. Understanding the organizations and actors related to IDN, therefore, is crucial to understanding how the internet world operates.
We’ll start the jargon buster by explaining ICANN as we briefly mentioned in our previous article. ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN’s mission is to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems, and thus it plays a crucial role in global internet governance. ICANN’s functions include, but are not limited to: coordinating the allocation of the internet’s unique identifiers, such as IP addresses, accreditation of generic top-level domain (gTLD) registrars, and developing internet policy so that the Internet’s unique identifier systems continue to be secure, stable, and interoperable.
ICANN is a multistakeholder organization. Multistakeholder here means that its processes are inclusive, involving different actors from many countries, ranging from experts, individuals, business sectors, non-commercial interests and governments. All stakeholders participate on an equal level, based on consensus-driven decision making. In relation to ICANN, there are several terms and actors that you need to know:
IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) is a technical function managed by ICANN that maintains the single, authoritative ‘root’ database, including, but not limited to internet numbers, maintains domain names, and delegates registries.
Registry is an organization delegated by IANA (ICANN) to manage the administrative and technical works for the Top-Level Domains. A registry is also responsible for managing the database of TLDs. It is also important to note that registry is interchangeable with registry operator or registry manager. Typically, there is one registry for one country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) like .uk, .in, .fr, etc. For example, EURid is the registry manager of .eu, .ευ and .ею, DENIC is the registry manager of .de, Nominet UK is the registry manager of .uk. A registry is also responsible for the accreditation of registrars.
Registrar is an organization accredited by a TLD registry to provide registration of domain names and associated services for registrants.
Registrant is an individual/business/organization who has the right over a domain name that is registered to a registrar.
Apart from ICANN and its related actors, there are essential organizations directly related to the United Nations (UN) and global internet governance.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a UN specialized agency that seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, sciences, and culture. In relation to IDNs, UNESCO is responsible for reporting on the implementation of WSIS action line C8 (Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content), and adopted the Recommendation concerning the promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace (2003), and is one of the founding partners of the IDN World Report.
IGF (Internet Governance Forum) is the UN-established multistakeholder group for policy dialogue on issues related to the internet governance. IGF aims to bring dialogues, debates, and discourses among stakeholders through their annual event. The stakeholders include experts, businesses groups, governments, civil society, and academia.
The establishment of IGF is an important milestone in internet governance as it shapes influential discussions about internet governance since its establishment. New developments in the internet governance generally appear in IGF, including ones related to IDN. These new developments and other historical milestones will be explained further in our next article on IDNWorldReport Jargon Buster #3!