The internet is for everyone and, indeed, should be accessible by all. Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) enable people around the world to see domain names in their native languages and scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic. Even Latin alphabet characters with accents and diacritical marks, (such as French) can be represented. The first IDN TLDs, that were implemented in 2010, were country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).
لسعودية., مصر. and امارات. (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), as well as .рф (Russia) were successfully implemented, and were followed soon after by .中国 and .中國 (China), .香港 (Hong Kong), and .台灣 and .台湾 (Taiwan).
To date, more than 70 IDN ccTLDs have been delegated worldwide, representing 79% of ccTLDs, and more than two million IDNs have been registered under ccTLDs.
Why adopt IDNs?
- They enable citizens to use their own identity online (correct spelling, native language)
- IDNs relate directly to language, culture and content
- They promote local and regional content
- They allow businesses and politicians to better target their messages
Universal acceptance and the future of IDNs
While IDNs represent a big step forward towards building a fully multi-lingual and inclusive internet, universal acceptance (UA) is what will help ensure that IDNs (and email addresses using international scripts) can be reliably used by all internet-connected devices, systems and applications.
Universal acceptance on the internet refers to the ability of the internet to recognise and support all domain names and email addresses, regardless of their language or script. It means that people using non-Latin scripts, such as Chinese or Arabic, should be able to use their native script in domain names and email addresses without encountering any technical barriers or errors.
Achieving universal acceptance requires collaboration between different stakeholders, such as governments, businesses and technical organisations, to promote the adoption of internationalized domain names and email addresses.
The ultimate hope behind UA is to bring – in ICANN’s words – “the next billion people” online – many of whom face linguistic barriers.
Where can I learn even more about IDNs?
The IDN World Report is a long-standing research project of EURid, UNESCO and other partners. The project started in 2011, and is supported by CENTR, as well as the other regional ccTLD organisations APTLD and LACTLD, and by numerous individual ccTLD registries who share data each year on their IDN experiences. The CENTR Issue Paper on IDNs gives a good overview of all different aspects of the introduction and usage of IDNs in the DNS. Our fact sheet on IDNs can also be downloaded.