ICANN Set to Approve Internationalised Domain Names

Domain names in non-Latin characters, known as Internationalised Domain Names, will be operational by mid-2010 if final plans are approved at this week’s ICANN meeting in Seoul, South Korea.Currently only characters and numerals, along with dashes, from the English language are used in domain names.”Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based,” Rod Beckstrom said at the opening of the ICANN meeting on Monday.”So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.””This is the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented 40 years ago,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, the chairman of the ICANN board told reporters. He called it a “fantastically complicated technical feature.”Plans to introduce Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) were approved in mid-2008, however testing to ensure the security of the domain name system has proven to be more complicated than anticipated.Once introduced, internet users whose first language is Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Korean Hangul, Thai or one of the many other non-Latin languages will be able to register domain names in their own language. Additionally, users whose first language is German, French or Spanish, for example, will be able to register domain names in their own languages using characters they currently cannot use.Initially non-Latin characters from 17 languages will be able to be used with other language characters becoming available in coming years.

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