Supporting the Global Information Infrastructure through the Internet’s Unique Identifier System

Akinori Maemura, Board Director, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Speeches

There is an ambitious, and necessary, goal shared by many in the technology industry to connect at least the next 1.5 billion world citizens to the Internet by 2020. This goal is not just about technology infrastructure, though that is a critical component. To compel people to connect, and to make the Internet relevant, it must be open, interoperable, accessible, easy to navigate and practically useful.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), of which I am a Board member, helps, with other players, to coordinate the Internet’s unique identifiers to ensure a secure, stable, open and interoperable Internet. ICANN through the Domain Name System (DNS), the naming and addressing system, allows any device, person or entity to securely reach another on the Internet.

As more and more Internet users connect, it’s important that they are able to find content that’s relevant to them and their communities in their chosen language. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) enable people around the world to use domain names in local languages and scripts. IDNs are formed using characters from scripts other than the Latin script such as Arabic, Chinese, or Cyrillic. This helps Internet users across the world and engage online using a domain name system entirely in their chosen language and script.

ICANN’s IDN program is primarily focused on the planning and implementation of IDN top-level domains (TLDs), including IDN country code TLDs and generic TLDs. The IDN Program also supports other activities geared toward a more effective use of IDNs at the second-level of the DNS.

ICANN also encourages Internet application developers to adopt best practices to achieve Universal Acceptance; a concept for Internet applications and systems to treat all TLDs, including IDN TLDs, in a consistent manner, so that users around the world can navigate entirely in local languages using familiar scripts.

Our work on IDNs also contribute to Action Line 8 of WSIS and to target 10.2, under Sustainable Development Goal 10 of the UN SDGs. We firmly believe that a multilingual Internet will foster the creation of local content in local languages, so there is more demand and more benefits on the ground, as the next billion users get connected to the Internet.

It is one of topics I will discuss in the Forum session When connectivity is not enough: driving meaningful digital inclusion, exploring how to improve access to broadband services and applications throughout the world at ITU Telecom World 2017 next week.

Because when we look ahead at the future of the Internet and connectivity, we know there are a host of challenges. At ICANN, we will do our part to help increase global Internet access by making the Internet more accessible in multiple languages around the world.

About the Author
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Akinori Maemura, Board Director, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

MAEMURA Akinori is General Manager of Internet Development Department at JPNIC - Japan Network Information Center, the not-for-profit Internet promotion body and National Internet Registry for Japan. He serves as a Board Director at ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the not-for-profit corporation to steward and ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems through the global multistakeholder participation. Maemura has more than 20 year career and experience in the Internet technical operations and coordination. He started the Internet career at NEC Corporation, Japan, to launch its ISP business, which is now known as BIGLOBE, as a network engineer in 1994. After that he started being involved in the Internet Coordination among ISPs and associations, including the establishment of JANOG, the Network Operators’ Group of Japan, and IP address management at JPNIC. Then his involvement expanded to the region when he was first elected to Executive Council of APNIC, Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, one of five Regional Internet Registries which administer the Internet number space for respective regions in 2000. He served as an EC member for 15 years, especially as the Chair of it for 13 years until February 2016, which constitutes one of his core competences of the strategic level of the Internet Number Space Management. The department he has been leading in JPNIC since 2009 covers a wide range of activities for the coordination and promotion of the Internet Infrastructure, including research on the Internet policies and technologies, events, communications and the oversight role of .jp ccTLD. Among them, he is directly involved in Policy Research for Domain Names and Internet Governance. He is a regular participant in ICANN meetings since 2009. Based on the knowledge by research and participation, his department disseminates various information on ICANN and the domain name policies including major outcomes of every ICANN meetings, ICANN Board resolutions, policies adopted by ICANN, through JPNIC website, organized events, online magazines and publications to serve the Japanese Community. Further, the department facilitates Internet Governance Conference Japan (IGCJ) to engage Japanese Community to the discussion on the Internet Governance, where he serves as the Head of Secretariat. He was selected by the Address Supporting Organization to serve on the Board of Directors of ICANN in 2016. His term will expire in 2019.