About the industry
The Domain Name System (DNS)
In this section, we will provide additional context and background information on the critical infrastructure, systems and organisations that help sustain a healthy, democratic and diverse DNS community that is central to the functioning of the internet.
The domain name system (DNS) is mostly known for associating names with IP addresses, as humans can more easily remember names than numbers. Also software and hardware on the internet name things, including web browsers, e-mail applications, gaming consoles or video streaming devices. The DNS is flexible and not linked to a device or location, i.e. a domain name stays the same even though the underlying IP address might change. The DNS has a lot of built-in redundancy to ensure reliability: if a server is not reachable, it can rely on multiple others that store the same data.
For applications to work and/or communicate with each other via internet protocols, domain names need to be translated into IP addresses. This process is set off by a query, i.e. when you want to send an e-mail or wish to access a website.
The following video explains it a bit more in detail:
How is .eu different from .com? ccTLDs vs gTLDs
What are ccTLDs?
Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are two-letter TLDs usually reserved for a specific country, sovereign territory or geography. For instance, the Republic of Ireland is represented by the “.ie” ccTLD in “www.irishexamplesite.ie.” Some ccTLDs have a set of “presence requirements” that only allow residents of that country to register a domain. Some ccTLDs also offer to possibility to register Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which are domains that allow non-Latin scripts and characters with accents to be used.
What are gTLDs?
Where ccTLDs are associated with specific countries or geographies, generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are based more around broad themes and feature a minimum of three letters. For example, .com was, at one time, most closely associated with businesses, while .org is commonly used by non-profits, and .edu is intended for educational institutions.
Understanding the role of ccTLD registries
Country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registry operators (also known as registries) are responsible for managing or administering a country-specific top-level domain such as .si or .eu. They are like a database for all the domains in their TLD.
Among their key responsibilities, registry operators provide name resolution services (connecting domain names with their associated IP addresses) and maintain the critical infrastructure needed to complete DNS queries.
Registry operators also provide registration services to registrars, which can include creating or cancelling domain names, updating a name server and more.
A ccTLD registry also manages what is known as the “zone file” for its specific geography. This zone file holds all the domain names along with contact information for each registrant. Information about the registrant as well as contacts for technical and administrative issues related to a domain name can be queried via the WHOIS, a directory service maintained by the registry. The Whois tool is an important query and response protocol within the DNS system. The Whois allows a user to perform a search on a given domain (or IP address) and retrieve various information about its registration.
The domain registration process
Registering a domain is an essential part of establishing an online presence. But how exactly do you register a domain? This article explores the domain registration process, providing an insight into all the actors who are involved, as well as a summary of what happens in the background once you have selected your domain name.
How do disputes about domain names get resolved?
Domain name registrations are governed by the 'first come, first served' principle, according to which whoever applies for a domain first can register it and hold its temporary right of use. While a registrant holds a domain, they also hold full responsibility for its use. Generally, registries will not assess a registrant's right to a domain. Exceptions include so-called "blocked domains" that are not to be registered pursuant to national law, or reserved lists that are only available for registration by certain governmental entities. Occasionally, domain names are registered in conflict with another party's rights, e.g., in case of a trademark infringement. In such cases, registries themselves do not assess conflicts.
ICANN, guardian of the global DNS
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an international, not-for-profit organisation that brings together individuals, industry, non-commercial and government representatives to discuss, debate and develop policies about the technical coordination of the internet’s domain name system (DNS).
ICANN is responsible for coordinating and managing the global DNS IP addresses, and other internet unique identifiers. Its primary role is to ensure the stable and secure operation of these systems, and to promote competition, innovation and access to the internet.
Ultimately, ICANN aims to maintain a globally accessible, interoperable and resilient internet for everyone.
While ICANN’s scope is limited, its importance cannot be overestimated. Policies developed at ICANN mainly impact generic top-level domains (gTLDs), but some that are of a technical coordinating nature can have an impact on country code top level domains (ccTLDs).
IDNs and how they allow for broader representation
The internet is for everyone and, indeed, should be accessible by all. Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) enable people around the world to see domain names in their native languages and scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic. Even Latin alphabet characters with accents and diacritical marks, (such as French) can be represented. The first IDN TLDs, that were implemented in 2010, were country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).
لسعودية., مصر. and امارات. (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), as well as .рф (Russia) were successfully implemented, and were followed soon after by .中国 and .中國 (China), .香港 (Hong Kong), and .台灣 and .台湾 (Taiwan).
To date, more than 70 IDN ccTLDs have been delegated worldwide, representing 79% of ccTLDs, and more than two million IDNs have been registered under ccTLDs.
The move to IPv6: ensuring continued internet growth
IP – or Internet Protocol – addresses are unique strings of numbers and characters used to identify an internet-connected device on a network – like a laptop, smartphone, smart speaker, etc. IP addresses allow all these devices to be identified and communicate with each other. The most commonly used IP addresses are IPv4 and IPv6, with the former being the older of the two and the latter being the newer and more advanced protocol.