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Chinese Character Top-Level Domain Names Win Approval

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WASHINGTON, June 28, 2010 - The board of the internet’s governing body has granted several Chinese organizations the ability to register domain names written entirely in characters, including the last characters to the right of the dot found in internet addresses.

China Internet Network Information Center, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation and Taiwan Network Information Center received approval to create top-level domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said, "One in five people on the planet will directly benefit from this work.” Previously, web operators were only able to use the Chinese country-code top-level domain with Chinese characters, except for the last “.cn”. The new domain names should be available in two to three months.

ICANN’s approval will affect software application developers and people who maintain website blacklists and whitelists based upon domain names. Those who have anti-phishing tools installed with have to update their codes and filters to include the new domains.

The Domain Name System, the major infrastructure used to store domain names, uses the Latin alphabet, with 26 letters, A-Z. However, this only suits English-speaking countries, and makes it difficult to include Chinese ideograms and Arabic script. Countries like Spain and Austria also have problems with this system, since they use accented characters to spell their words, including their official country names.

In order to store domain names for non-English speaking countries, the Internet Engineering Task Force had to rework the current infrastructure to allow different scripts, a project that took several years. Internationalized domain names, regardless of script type, are stored as a series of Latin letters beginning with “xn.” The conversion of top-level domain names will be handled by the browser or other client software.

China is just one of the countries applying for internationalized domain names. ICANN allowed character-written domain names for the first time last April, when it granted approval to Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to use their own scripts for domain names.

Lindsey is working with through an internship with the National Journalism Center. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in professional writing. She has worked in Virginia Tech's public affairs department, and she was an assistant editor of one of the college's news-magazines. Lindsey is from Chatham, Va.


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