International domain names or addresses that can be written in non-English characters are expected to be approved this week.  This will spark one of the biggest changes to the internet in its four-decade history.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN – the non-profit group that oversees domain names – is holding a meeting this week in Seoul.

The ICANN board will decide if will allow entire internet addresses to be in scripts that are not based on Latin letters.

This 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.

The change will address the fact more than half of the 1.6billion internet users worldwide use languages based on alphabets other than Latin.

‘This is the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented 40 years ago,’ Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, said.

He expects the board to grant approval on Friday, the conference’s final day.

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.

Enabling the change, Mr Thrush said, is the creation of a translation system that allows multiple scripts to be converted to the right address.

‘We’re confident that it works because we’ve been testing it now for a couple of years,’ he said.

‘And so we’re really ready to start rolling it out.’

The change follows a sheepish admission by the founder of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, that the two forward slashes at the beginning of each internet address are superfluous.

‘Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //,’ he told a symposium on the future of technology this month.

‘I could have designed it not to have the //.’

Via Daily Mail