Thursday, November 5, 2009

ICANN Bringing the Languages of the World to the Global Internet

The first Internet addresses containing non-Latin characters from start to finish will soon go online according to the approval of the new Internationalized Domain Name Fast Track Process by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board (ICANN).

ICANN who are responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet.

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

ICANN chairman, Peter Dengate Thrush, said "The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago. Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters – A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."

Senior Director for IDN, ICANN, Tina Dam, noted that "Our work on IDNs has gone through numerous drafts, dozens of tests, and an incredible amount of development by volunteers since we started this project. Today is the first step in moving from planning and implementation to the real launch. The launch of the Fast Track Process will be an amazing change to make the Internet an even more valuable tool, and for even more people around the globe."

ICANN's Fast Track Process launch on 16 November 2009 would 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 include government and community support and a stability evaluation, the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations.

According to ICANN, IDNs have been a topic of discussion since before ICANN's inception. It's taken years of intense technical testing, policy development, and global co-operation to prepare the Fast Track process for its coming launch.
The non profit organisation carefully manages the resource which is vital to the Internet's operation, while meeting regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability.

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