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International domains go online

12 February, 2008
By Allison Orr

In late 2007, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rolled out its first test of international domain names, so for the first time, domain names that have characters other than the currently allowed 37 Roman characters have gone live.

While the first sites are temporary pages and are very basic, many languages are being trialed, including Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Tamil and Yiddish.  If the tests are successful, ICANN will work towards allowing registration of top-level domain names using non-Roman scripts.

The biggest hurdle to the introduction of this technology is the heightened risk of “phishing” through the use of similar looking domain names.  This has always been a problem with domain names (for example, substituting similar looking letters with numbers: paypal.com for paypa1.com), but the number of similar looking characters would be increased by the introduction of new characters. ICANN takes this problem seriously and is working on ways around it

See our previous article on this topic ICANN discusses international domain names

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