The Internet domain-name governing body has approved, after years of discussion, the use of internet addresses that consist solely of non-Latin characters.
"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," said Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush in a statement. "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 process of bringing these new characters into use will begin on November 16. Nations and territories can apply for iInternet extensions for their name with characters from their national language. If the applications meet set requirements such as having government and community support, ICANN will approve the applicant’s ability to allow others to register for the new domain name. Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's CEO, noted that the use of non-Latin domain names will help bring billions of people online who have never used Roman characters.
The news is attracting attention from media outlets around the world.
ArabNews, the first Saudi English-language daily newspaper, wrote in an editorial Saturday that “enabling users to key in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Cyrillic or whatever scripts they use to access their chosen websites will show that all languages and cultures are regarded as equal in the Internet age.”
A story in The Independent of London said ICANN’s move marks the first step to shake the English dominance of the Internet in 40 years.