Multilingualism and IDNs are as essential as net neutrality
At a breakfast meeting of the European Internet Foundation (EIF) on 10 January, a grouping of MEPs, industry and NGO representatives, including Peter Van Roste (CENTR), spoke about language access to the internet.
Peter Van Roste, CENTR General Manager, spoke up about the work done at the technical level of the DNS in the past 10 years to integrate Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), i.e. non-ASCII characters and diacritics. He highlighted the fact that the challenge now lies with the software layer, which is commonly referred to as Universal Acceptance. He stated that "the technical layer of the DNS has been ready for IDNs for a decade; it is universal acceptance that is lagging behind", as IDNs are not always recognised by apps and end-user software, such as forms requiring "standard" (i.e. latin-script only) email addresses. IDNs are a crucial element in promoting multilingualism online: they allow citizens to express their own culture and identity, and to use their own script.