ICANN to decide on non-Latin domain names

— 10:53 AM on October 27, 2009

Some Internet domain names may start looking a little different next year. As the Associated Press reports, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is meeting in Seoul, South Korea this week to discuss, among other things, whether to support domain names written using non-Latin alphabets.

If ICANN decides to move forward with the change, the AP says, it will start taking applications for domain names written in scripts ranging from Arabic and Japanese to Hindi and Greek. The first non-Latin domains could see the light of day "sometime in mid 2010."

ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush told the AP, "This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago." Thrush called support for non-Latin domains a "fantastically complicated technical feature," although ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom added, "We're confident that it works because we've been testing it now for a couple of years. . . . And so we're really ready to start rolling it out."

According to Beckstrom, half of the world's 1.6 billion Internet users write in languages based on non-Latin script. The change may come not a moment too soon, then.

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