ICANN releases non-Latin domain names

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - ICANN - has, as expected, approved internet domain names (IDNs) containing non-Latin characters.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - ICANN - has, as expected, approved internet domain names (IDNs) containing non-Latin characters.

Yesterday, through a new Internationalized Domain Name Fast Track Process, nations and territories were given permission to apply for internet extensions made up of characters from their national language, adding 100,000 new characters to the internet's lexicon.

"This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the internet," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and CEO.

"The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives."

The first languages to be accepted will include Chinese characters, Hindi, Cyrillic and Hebrew, along with about a dozen others. More will be added over the coming months and years.

ICANN will start accepting applications on 16 November. Applications will need to meet criteria including government and community support and a stability evaluation.

Applications will at first be limited to country-code top level domains. ICANN is still considering how to handle commerical generic top-level domains such as .com or .org, and is expected to make a decision in 2011.