By Anil Kumar Jain, UASG Chair

To kick off FY24, the UASG administrative team recently met in Istanbul for an in-person planning meeting. This valuable face-to-face time gave us an opportunity to discuss a variety of matters, including developing the UASG strategic plan for the next five years, evolving a more transparent and accountable governance model, creating a UA Day strategy for 2024 and beyond, the UA Ambassador Program, and ICANN78 planning, among other topics. The UASG’s expanding work is a testament to the dedication of the Working Groups (WGs) and members of the UASG, as well as to the ongoing support provided by ICANN org.

Since its inception in 2015, the UASG has been working to make the Internet more inclusive for users around the world through the Universal Acceptance (UA) of all valid domain names and email addresses. Much of this work has involved technical gap analysis of current technology and direct outreach to global tech companies, domain industry leaders, and communities to raise awareness of the many benefits of being UA-ready. As UA awareness has grown in recent years, thanks in large part to UA Day, the UASG’s work is shifting from awareness toward UA remediation and adoption – which involves helping organizations tackle underlying technical issues and gaps, hosting UA trainings for software developers and system administrators, and providing resources to help address barriers to adoption of UA.

To reflect this new emphasis on adoption, the UASG admin team has decided to request that the UASG’s working groups develop a strategic plan for the next five years and set specific UA adoption targets. The UASG admin team suggests prioritizing engagement with the following stakeholders in these plans:

  • Governments on a whole, specifically the demand side, for updating their procurement policies to include UA and promote widespread adoption; to this end, the UASG plans to set up a small team focused on government engagement, which may turn into a working group.
  • Big tech companies on the supply side, for supporting UA in their tools and applications; ICANN to help support the outreach.
  • DNS industry and service providers (TLD registries, registrars, ISPs, hosting providers, etc.)

The UASG will also continue to work with existing stakeholders, including technology enablers, technology developers, email tools and service providers, educational institutions, and other industry experts.

As the UASG matures, the admin team decided to look into additional governance measures to make the UASG more transparent and accountable. This includes measures adopted by other community-led groups within ICANN’s multistakeholder model, like making member Statements of Interest publicly available. The UASG is debating and discussing such mechanisms to increase transparency in community interactions.

Following the success of the UA Ambassador Program, and many new applications, the UASG admin team increased the number of ambassadors within the same budget. The team prioritized gender diversity and geographic distribution while selecting new ambassadors, as well as prioritizing candidates who have the necessary technical background. Fifteen of the positions can be funded, though the team welcomes additional ambassadors if they are able to volunteer without funding support.

Finally, following the success of this year’s UA Day, the team agreed to establish a UA Day WG, which will work closely with the Coordination WG to organize UA Day 2024. The team is considering holding a session on UA Day planning at ICANN78, so that the community can weigh in and learn more.

I would like to thank the UASG leadership colleagues who participated in the meeting, and everyone from ICANN org who help make our work possible. I look forward to continued collaboration. Achieving a truly global multilingual Internet through UA takes all of us, each contributing in our own unique ways globally. For more details on the UASG’s work over the next fiscal year, please read the FY24 Action Plan.

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