Web addresses to extend to non-English languages

Non-English characters will soon point to websites thanks to the regulatory body, ICANN. Will this now make the Internet truly local?

Since the very start of web addresses being introduced, only Latin-script (English) based web addresses would work. With the ever increasing number of web addresses in use, the regulatory body assigning domain name details has approved the use of non-English addresses.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, have approved a number of internationalised domain names (IDN's) which could be rolled out as soon as next year, the BBC report.

At the moment, only the standard 26-letter English alphabet from A-Z and including 0-9 can be used. This new process will allow in theory any language using any symbol to enter web addresses.

This move will see the next generation web for non-English speaking users, and in short, will make the Internet truly local to whoever may use the web.

From two weeks time, ICANN will begin accepting applications for IDN's and will make the first ones available from mid-2010.

Starting with the most popular languages, according to the BBC article:

"It is likely the majority of early non-Latin net addresses to be approved will be in Chinese and Arabic script, followed by Russian.

Some countries, such as China and Thailand, have already introduced workarounds that allow computer users to enter web addresses in their own language. However, these were not internationally approved and do not work on all computers."

This appears to be ICANN's first major step since receiving autonomy from the US government last month. How web browsers will respond to this it is not so clear. However, with Firefox, by entering in a non-English set of characters, seems to convert it only to English when submitted.

Will this make the Internet more accessible? Have your say.


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