Web addresses become multilingual

October 30th, 2009 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, Oct 30 (DPA) Plans are in motion to create fully “internationalised” Web addresses - those completely in non-Latin scripts like Korean or Arabic, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, announced Friday.
“We just made the internet much more accessible to millions of people in regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Russia,” Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

ICANN’s board of directors voted to approve the decision before an audience of some 200 attendees of the organisation’s 36th International Public Meeting in Seoul.

“This decision is very significant and meaningful for not only Koreans, but all those who are not English native speakers,” Kang Hye Young, director of the Internet Name Policy Team at the Korea Internet & Security Agency, told DPA.

KISA is the local host of the Seoul meeting. “It shows that now ICANN is considering seriously the voice of non-native English speakers,” she added.

An estimated 60 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Web users are non-English speakers, according to Internet World Stats.

ICANN, the world’s “internet regulator”, plans to begin work on the new Web addresses Nov 16, when it will begin accepting applications for new endings for domain names.

Initially, the process will be limited to a set range of these suffixes, called internationalised domain names, or IDNs, that involve country codes - such as “.kr” in Korea or “.ae” for the United Arab Emirates.

Organisations like KISA, which manages the “.kr” domain, will be eligible to submit new endings to Web addresses in script such as Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Possibilities include “dot-hangul” or “dot-daehanminguk” in Korean script, Kang said, although no official decisions have been made yet. “Daehanminguk” means Republic of Korea.

The use of IDNs will expand over time to include all types of suffixes, such as “.berlin”, ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said at an opening press conference last Monday.

If regulated by local municipal authorities, such Web addresses would be more credible to consumers, he said.

ICANN, a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation formed in 1998, coordinates the globe’s Web addresses and names. Based in Marina Del Ray, California, it holds international conferences three times per year in different regions of the world.

The next gathering is slated for March 7-12, 2010, in Nairobi, Kenya.

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