Multi-lingual "starfish" – wave of new language domain names coming

In July I received an email from Rod Beckstrom, author of  ‘Starfish & the Spider’, whom I met in Dubai at the EO conference and who stimulated my thoughts on ‘we are smarter than me.’  Rod had taken up his new role as CEO of ICANN, the policy organization for Internet names, numbers and parameters. ICANN helps to support the domain name system (DNS) and root servers-  which are very much like the starfish nerve ring of the Internet- allowing all arms (users) to connect to any other, anywhere in the world.  ICANN’s goal is “One world. One Internet. Everyone Connected.” Domain names are the monikers behind every website, email address and Twitter post, such as ‘.com’ and other suffixes. On the 31st of September ICANN  signed a new Affirmation of Commitments with the US government which allows ICANN to be reviewed not by one government, but instead by review teams comprised of different stakeholders around the world.  It is just the change that many have been asking for and hoping for for years. Today the news arrived that ‘Internet might have non-English domain names soon’.  ICANN is holding a meeting this week in Seoul. One of the key issues to be taken up by ICANN’s board at this week’s gathering, is whether to allow for the first time, entire Internet addresses to be in scripts that are not based on Latin letters. One of the key issues to be taken up by ICANN’s board at this week’s gathering, is whether to allow for the first time, entire Internet addresses to be in scripts that are not based on Latin letters. That could potentially open up the Web to more people around the world as addresses could be in characters as diverse as Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Hindi and Cyrillic – in which Russian is written. ‘This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago,’ Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, told reporters, calling it a ‘fantastically complicated technical feature’. Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s new president and CEO, said that if the change is approved, ICANN would begin accepting applications for non-English domain names and that the first entries into the system would likely come sometime in mid 2010. Of the 1.6 billion Internet users worldwide, Mr Beckstrom – a former chief of US cybersecurity – said that more than half use languages that have scripts based on alphabets other than Latin. ‘So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s Internet users today, but more than half of probably the future users as the use of the Internet continues to spread,’ he said. For companies defending their online properties it will be important to keep abreast of this development, and to ensure that they register their Chinese company name on the Internet with ICANN.

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