ICANN Moves Ahead With Non-Latin Web Addresses (Video)


As expected, regulatory body ICANN has approved plans to let web addresses be written in non-Latin characters in a move that it calls the “biggest technical change” to how the Internet works since its invention four decades ago.

The vote was announced at the last day of the non-profit group’s Seoul conference.

The proposal means domain names could be written in languages such as Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi or Cyrillic and be understood natively by the servers that connect computers together over the web. Currently, domain names can only be displayed using the Latin alphabet letters A-Z, the digits 0-9 and the hyphen, but in the future countries will be able to display country-code Top Level Domains (cc TLDs) in their native language.

The organization will launch a fast-track process for approving the Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) scheme on 16 November, and the first IDN-compliant addresses should be in operation by the middle of next year, said ICANN President Rod Beckstrom.

From the statement:

It will allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name – and made up of characters from their national language. If the applications meet criteria that includes government and community support and a stability evaluation, the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations.

In the fairly cheese video above, Beckstrom says over half of Internet users from all over the world will finally be able to write web address in the “100,000 characters of world languages” that so far were not supported.

According to the outlined proposal, ICANN will charge registries $26,000 for an evaluation processing fee, which can be paid in the local currency. ICANN would also like an annual contribution fee of 3 percent of a registry’s revenue, which can be as low as 1 percent for low-volume registries.