Universal Acceptance

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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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[2]

Domain names in a TLD must be useable in applications regardless of the written script, length or newness of the TLD.[3] 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.[4]

As the Internet evolved to be more personal, targeted and global, these assumptions are no longer valid.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.

ICANN Involvement

  • In January 2023, ICANN published a study on The Universal Acceptance (UA) Roadmap for Domain Name Registry and Registrar Systems,[5] which proposes how to test systems for UA-readiness for TLD registries and registrars. The study is based on the Universal Acceptance Readiness Framework[6] and includes results of testing a registry system and a registrar system.[7]

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.[2]

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.[8]

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.

Name Organization Type Country
Africa Center for Advocacy (ACA) NGO Africa
ALURA Private company Brazil
Association of African Universities (AAU) NGO Africa
Autobot Infosec Private Limited (AIPL) Private company India
Bangladesh Internet Governance Forum (BIGF) NGO Bangladesh
BASIS Technologies Private Limited Private company India
Internet Society Benin Chapter IDEMI Africa NGO Benin
Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) NGO Caribbean
CEABAD Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Banda Ancha para el Desarrollo NGO Nicaragua
UNIVERSIDAD CENTRAL DEL ECUADOR Corporación Ecuatoriana para el Desarrollo NGO Ecuador
Computer Association Nepal (CAN), Youth IGF Nepal NGO Nepal
Congress of Aguascalientes, Mexico (LACRALO UA Initiative) NGO Mexico
Data for Governance (D4G) Lab Information Technology Organization of IRAN NGO Iran
Dutch Internet Standards Platform NGO Netherlands
E-Governance and Internet Governance Foundation for Africa (EGIGFA) NGO Africa
Equipement and Technical Services Private company Niger
geoTLD.group, ECO, Knipp Medien und Kommunikation GmbH Private and nonprofit companies Germany
House Of Africa NGO Chad
İBB Veri Laboratuvarı (Data Lab) SistersLab Government agency and NGO Turkey
ICT Association of Malawi NGO Malawi
iMasters Private company Brazil
International Business, Science and Technology University and Internet Society Uganda Chapter NGO Uganda
International Youth Summit Sierra Leone NGO Sierra Leone
Internet DotTrademark Organisation Limited Private company China
Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) NGO India
ISOC Kenya NGO Kenya
Internet Society Liberia Chapter NGO Liberia
Internet Society of China NGO China
Internet Society Rwanda Non-profit organization Rwanda
ISOC Armenia (Armenia ccTLD Operator) Non-governmental organization Armenia
ISOC El Salvador, SVNET Non-profit organization El Salvador
SOC Islamabad, Ministry of IT & Telecom of Pakistan Government agency Pakistan
Pakistan Software Export Board Government agency Pakistan
LACNOG Non-profit organization Latin America
Lao National Internet Center Lao Ministry of Technology and Communications Government agency Laos
Libyan Internet Society Non-profit organization Libya
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Government agency Malaysia
NARALO and ISOC NY Non-profit organization N/A
National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Government agency Egypt
Nigerian Communications Commission, AFRALO, Green ICTi ALSe Government agency Nigeria
PointQuébec Non-profit organization Canada
Samoa Information Technology Association Non-profit organization Samoa
Telecommunication Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) Government agency Trinidad and Tobago
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Government agency Bahrain
Thai Network Information Center(Thailand ccTLD Operator) Non-profit organization Thailand
University of Dodoma Academic institution Tanzania
Theekshana Private company Sri Lanka
Thi Pho Myanmar Non-profit organization Myanmar
Internet Society Tunisia Non-profit organization Tunisia
University of Ilorin Academic institution Nigeria
Vodafone PNG Private company Papua New Guinea

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