The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will discuss key projects and initiatives at a meeting this week, including the internationalisation of the domain name system and a lucrative site-registration practice some object to.

Other topics on the agenda for the meeting, to be held in Sao Paulo, include the group's strategic plan for 2007 to 2009 and next year's operating plan.

A workshop on IPV6 will address what this new internet protocol is and why it is needed, and a forum on the introduction of TLDs (top level domains) will feature at the conference, which runs until the end of this week.

A major focus this week will be on the Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) initiative, a years-long project that aims to revamp the DNS system so that it can support domain names in a broad range of languages and alphabets that can't be represented via the ASCII character set, such as Arabic and Chinese. ICANN will issue a status report on the IDN project and hold a training and a tutorial session.

So far, through lab tests and meetings, ICANN is finding that the process to broaden the DNS' support for non-ASCII characters will be more difficult than originally thought, ICANN CEO and president Paul Twomey said on Monday during a press conference. "This is really hard," he said, adding that ICANN hopes to have a technical solution in place by the end of 2007. "It has to be done carefully so that it works for the entire world."

Attendees will also discuss a recent site-registration practice called "kiting" and "tasting" that is generating much controversy. It involves the wholesale purchase of expired domain names, and the subsequent cancellation of most of them during a five-day "grace" period allowed as part of the process. If cancelled before the five days are up, the registration fee is fully refunded. Those who engage in this practice only keep the domain names that attract enough traffic to justify their registration fee, and proceed to "park" those sites and load them with pay-per-click ads.

"There's a whole discussion going on in the community about whether there should be anything done about this," Twomey said. "There are people who think this isn't an appropriate behaviour. Others think this is just the market at work."

Those opposed to "kiting" are suggesting that ICANN impose some sort of fee whenever a registration is cancelled before the grace period is over, a move they feel will discourage the practice.