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ICANN goes global, expands domains to characters beyond A-Z

ICANN has approved a plan to bring non-Latin characters (A-Z) used in other languages to domain names, taking the addresses of the Internet into native languages around the world.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

Internet Web addresses are going global, starting with the introduction of characters that go beyond the widely-used Latin characters (A-Z) that are used in the U.S. and other nations.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), the organization the oversees domain names and IP addresses, approved a plan to bring non-Latin characters to the Internet during a conference in South Korea, according to a CNET report.

The Internet Domain Names system will allow the use of native character sets, such as Chinese, Arabic and Greek, CNET reported. In a statement, ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush, said:

The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago. Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters--A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names.

The report noted that the initial change will only impact local country code domains, such as the .kr for Korea but that .com, .net and .org won't see the changes right away. The Fast Track Process is scheduled to begin later this month.

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