Monday, March 27, 2006

Using internationalized domain names

Using internationalized domain names is a cool tutorial that discusses the technical issues behind the development of Internationalised Domain Names - so that people who don't use English, can actually use accents, Chinese and Korean, Arabic characters in the whole domain name. Right now, in order to use the Internet you need to know at least SOME English as the top level domain is still in English (ASCII).
This discussion has been going on for a while, but hopefully we are nearing the end of the road, as there is a lot of frustration in the non-ASCII world, and there is the major risk of alternate roots being set up and the "splitting" of the internet.
There are political and policy issues as well that need to be sorted out, and these include the following intellectual property issues:

  • Does a registrant holding an ASCII TLD have a prior right to register the same in the IDN version? What about trademark holders?
  • Would current domain name holders feel forced to register the IDN equivalent for brand protection? That might be seen as a form of extortion.
There's also a lot of other concerns, and this should be REALLY something that the regional groups that say they are interested in the multilingual Internet should be involved in, but I haven't seen a single output from CARDICIS into the ICANN or other IDN processes. OK - so the majority of these processes set upp by ICANN are in English. But is that a reason to ignore the process and then have only the people who are willing and able to participate in English make the decisions for us? Sounds like cutting off our nose to spite our face.

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