26 March 2016

Mission & Purpose

New top-level domains are inconsistently handled by software products and online services, in spite of community-developed resources such as the Public Suffix List . International character sets, whether in Unicode or Punycode1, are also inconsistently handled, either from non-support of the RFCs or from support for outdated versions of these RFCs.

Software and service providers have historically been unaware of the problem or had little market or regulatory incentive to invest in solutions that would bring true interoperability to platforms or applications. The ongoing rollout of new TLDs, the democratization of computing, the growth of internationalized domain names (IDNs), and the completion of email address internationalization (EAI) standards will likely upset this status quo.

A coordinated industry effort is required to ensure a timely, practical, and continuing resolution to these changes.

1 Punycode is a way to represent Unicode with the limited character subset of ASCII supported by the Domain Name System.

Charter Application Timeline

As this is a project that will take years to fully address all Universal Acceptance issues, the Steering Group should be a standing group whose membership will evolve over the years. ICANN should be prepared for the Steering Group to drive action over the course of the next 10 years, though group leadership terms and structure shall be re-evaluated at least every two years.

Group Composition

The Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) will be made up of ICANN community members as well as non-ICANN community experts. Each member will be counted on to contribute in some area of expertise needed by this program. Active volunteer participation is expected from the community. Additionally, the UASG will engage with paid consultants as deemed necessary to accomplish the goals set forth by the UASG leadership.

The UASG intends participation to be multistakeholder and encourages all capable and interested parties to contribute to the effort. The UASG is envisioned to be an activity-oriented advocacy group not a policy-oriented group. As a result, weighted representation is not expected, and participation from various stakeholders is expected to change over time and depending on the activities and priorities appropriate at various stages of the project.


The UASG will be tasked with undertaking activities that will effectively promote the Universal Acceptance of all valid domain names and email addresses. These efforts will at least target Universal Acceptance of all ASCII domain names, ASCII email addresses, IDN domain names, email using EAI.

This should be considered a multi-sector effort. Outputs may range from technical guidance and tools to support developers and service providers in addressing UA-related issues, to messaging and campaigns around why Universal Acceptance should be treated as a priority for businesses, governments, civil society, and other stakeholders.

Activities that would be considered within scope shall include:

  • Work closely with staff to drive efforts related to Universal Acceptance. Develop budgets (resource, staffing and money) necessary to complete specific projects and develop sourcing strategies;
  • Prioritize efforts requested by domain name industry participants, registrants and Internet users, and ICANN and make recommendations to the steering committee;
  • Identify collaborative opportunities in new communities;
  • Oversee the development of informational materials for various stakeholders (including coordinating with industry efforts) to incentivize and facilitate resolution of UA-related issues;
  • Study the need and requirements for appropriate repositories (and advocate for their development/deployment by ICANN or through collaboration with appropriate industry efforts);
  • Follow up with the deployment of ICANN internal policies to support UA;
  • Collect data and develop measurements/indices/surveys to measure UA readiness;
  • Establish milestones to continue to track progress of UA;
  • Invite non-ICANN community to the initiative and proactively reach out to non-ICANN community events/initiatives in order to have access to needed talents and skills;


The Steering Group itself will be overseen by one Chair and two to three Vice-Chairs who will be appointed to two-year terms with the possibility of one reappointment so that Chairs and Vice-Chairs will serve for a period of no less than two years and no more than four. The goal of the Steering Group is primarily to oversee and participate in the work of the UASG. The Steering Group will also lead the budget process, maintain the Charter, and coordinate the creation and dissolution of Projects.

The Steering Group will provide advice, support, direction, assistance and oversight of staff devoted to pursue the objectives to the UASG.

Terms of Membership

The work of the Steering Group will be transparent to the community and open to all to observe, but membership will require active participation in a focused area of interest.

The UASG Coordination Group is a small coordinating body with limited membership other than the Chair, Vice-Chairs, and a few issue leaders. The Coordination Group has the right to set rules of membership, which may be necessary so that a group’s composition is fit for its task and focus areas.
A community member may participate in one or more Projects.

A Chair or Coordinator position in the leadership of the UASG may be declared vacant if the member:

  • Resigns from the UASG (this should be in writing and forwarded to the Chair or Vice-Chair )
  • Fails to attend more than two meetings without prior notice

Convening of Meetings

Meetings will be held at the time and place chosen by the Steering Group Chair in the course of UASG meetings. UASG members will be informed of meetings through email at least one week prior to the meeting.

Here are the expected formats for meetings:

Face-to-Face and Online/Telephonic Meetings

  1. Steering Group meetings
    • track progress of activities by staff and Project Groups
    • calibration/recalibration of priorities
    • review/revise action plans
  2. Project meetings
    • develop work product within the specified work area
    • determine necessary points of collaboration with other Project Groups
  3. Public meetings
    • invite non-ICANN community participants to share experiences
    • update community on progress and activities of UASG
    • continue to recruit participation in ongoing activities

Mailing List Discussions

  • conference calls as need be in between ICANN meetings
  • coordination of activities outside of ICANN (by community members as well as ICANN staff)


  • Meetings will be advertised in the Universal Acceptance public mailing list;
  • Project documents and notices will be posted on the project website;

Conduct of Meetings

  • Meetings will be open to all;
  • Meetings will be facilitated;
  • The UASG will endeavor to provide remote participation opportunities when possible;
  • Informed alternates are acceptable and encouraged if the UASG member cannot attend;
  • After all meeting agenda items have been addressed, time will be provided for non members in attendance to voice their opinions;
  • Meetings will end with a clear understanding of expectations and assignments for next steps;
  • Meetings are expected to be one to three hours and not exceed three hours, though multiple meetings could occur on a single day;
  • A record of meeting attendees, key issues raised, and actions required. Comments from individual members will generally not be attributed and a verbatim record of the meeting will not be prepared;
  • The previous meeting record and a meeting agenda will be forwarded to members of the UASG at least one week before the next meeting;
  • Any changes to the record of the past meetings shall be in writing and forwarded to the UASG prior to the next meeting;

Meeting Ground Rules

  • Speak one at a time – refrain from interrupting others;
  • Wait to be recognized by facilitator before speaking;
  • Facilitator will call on people who have not yet spoken before calling on someone a second time for a given subject;
  • Share the oxygen – ensure that all members who wish to have an opportunity to speak are afforded a chance to do so;
  • Maintain a respectful stance toward towards all participants;
  • Listen to other points of view and try to understand other interests;
  • Share information openly, promptly, and respectfully;
  • If requested to do so, hold questions to the end of each presentation;
  • Make sure notes taken on newsprint are accurate;
  • Remain flexible and open-minded, and actively participate in meetings;

UASG Members Agree To:

  • Provide specific local expertise, including identifying emerging local issues;
  • Review project reports and comment promptly;
  • Attend all meetings possible and prepare appropriately;
  • Complete all necessary assignments prior to each meeting;
  • Relay information to their constituents after each meeting and gather information/feedback from their constituents as practicable before each meeting;
  • Articulate and reflect the interests that Project Group members bring to the table;
  • Maintain a focus on solutions that benefit the entire work area;

Conflict Resolution

When an issue arises that cannot be easily resolved, UASG members agree to:

  • Remember that controversial projects are unlikely to receive funding, so the intent of all parties is to resolve issues so the project can be funded;
  • Determine if the issue should be resolved within or outside of the UASG and participate however is appropriate;
  • Ensure the appropriate decision makers are at the table to resolve the issue;