Universal Acceptance or UA is the concept that all domain names should be treated equally, and it is a technical requirement that ensures all valid domain names and email addresses, regardless of script, language, or character length, can be used by all Internet-enabled applications, devices, and systems. Under it, all valid domain names and email addresses are accepted, validated, stored, processed and displayed correctly and consistently by all Internet-enabled applications, devices and systems.
Many systems operate under the assumption that all domain names and their e-mail addresses are only available in ASCII, and that TLDs are restricted to a well-defined and constant two or three characters. The introduction of IDN ccTLDs in 2010 and the most recent wave of new gTLDs in 2013, however, greatly changed this dynamic.
Domain names in a TLD must be useable in applications regardless of the written script, length or newness of the TLD. The four main shifts spurring the need for Universal Acceptance:
- Longer TLD Names: TLDs with names longer than four characters, such as MUSEUM.
- Non-Latin based TLDs: Resulting from the addition of TLD names written in scripts other than ASCII, such as Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese.
- Rapid addition of TLDs: The New gTLD Program is spurring very rapid additions of long ASCII names and IDN names – as of 15 August 2014, there were 1,326 applications currently proceeding through the New gTLD Program.
- International Emails: The introduction of non-ASCII names in email. While International Domain Names (IDNs) solved part of the ability to have non-ASCII names for servers, it doesn't solve the ability to have non-ASCII names for mailboxes.
As the Internet evolved to be more personal, targeted and global, these assumptions are no longer valid. But limitations based on the old assumptions linger and now are preventing a larger and ever-growing group of users from accessing the entire expanse of the Internet. In some instances, Internet users trying to use the newly delegated generic Top Level Domain (gTLDs), whose names may be many characters long and/or in non-Latin scripts, can experience "bugs" or the inability to access/register the sites.
This problem must be solved, and Universal Acceptance realized, in order to achieve a truly global, scalable Internet. It will be considered complete when any person can register and use a domain name in any top-level domain in widely distributed web browsers, email clients, in setting up accounts for Internet services and other services.
- In January 2023, ICANN published a study on The Universal Acceptance (UA) Roadmap for Domain Name Registry and Registrar Systems, which proposes how to test systems for UA-readiness for TLD registries and registrars. The study is based on the Universal Acceptance Readiness Framework and includes results of testing a registry system and a registrar system.
Universal Acceptance Steering Group
Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) is a community-led effort. It was formed in February 2015, and is tasked with undertaking activities that will target Universal Acceptance of all ASCII domain names, ASCII email addresses, IDN domain names, and IDN email.
UA DAY 2023
March 28 was the UA Day for 2023. Around the world, UA events were held to rally local, regional, and global communities and organizations to spread Universal Acceptance awareness and to encourage UA adoption with key stakeholders. The events consisted of UA training, awareness, and strategy sessions led by the UASG, ICANN, global partners, and regional and local organizations. Although the main day was March 28, organizations began holding events as early as 22/02/2023 (a UA Hackathon led by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain, which lasted three days) and as late as 05/09/2023 (the Celebration of Universal Acceptance Day Training Session in Laos run by the Lao National Internet Center in the Ministry of Technology and Communications). By far, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region held the most events, coming in at 20 and 21 sessions, respectively. North America and Europe held the fewest, hosting two events each, according to the UASG. The participation level of Latin America and the Caribbean fell in the middle with 11 events.
According to the UASG, the following organizations hosted UA Day events. These organizers held one-hour, two-hour, or half-day UA awareness (11) and outreach (24) events or one- or two-day technical training (27) events.
- Quick Guide [PDF, 153 KB] - Helps developers understand the basic tenets of Universal Acceptance and provides practical tips on how to become UA-ready
- Universal Acceptance Fact Sheet [PDF, 143 KB] - Interactive .pdf which provides answers to frequently asked questions about Universal Acceptance of top-level domains
- UASG Official Website
- UA DAY 2023, UASG
- Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG), ICANN.org. Published 2016 March 28. Retrieved 2016 April 17.
- Universal Acceptance landing page at ICANN, ICANN.org.
- Universal Acceptance Frequently Asked Questions at ICANN
- UA Roadmap
- UA Readiness Framework
- ICANN Publishes UA Roadmap for Registries and Registrars, ICANN Announcements
- UA Day 2023, UASG