Multilingual Domain Names Redux

Five years ago, I began writing about the challenges of creating a truly multilingual domain name system (DNS). Currently, a URL may contain only Latin characters, hardly a user-friendly system for the majority of the world’s population.

There have been some workarounds proposed over the past few years, but the only long-term solution is to overhaul the DNS so that it supports Unicode. This solution sounds nice but opens the door to a host of new and creative security nightmares.

This recent Reuters article touches on these issues. Here is an excerpt:

    Fattal, chairman of the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium (MINC), says he is determined to change that and turn the Internet into a truly global instrument for communication.

    “There are two ways to create this multilingual internet. Either we teach English to over 4.5 billion non-English speaking people distributed across the world, or we incorporate the world’s various languages and language variations into the Internet’s infrastructure,” he told Reuters in Cairo.

    Elevating Arabic to equal status with English could revolutionise Internet usage in the Middle East and lead to an explosion in the number of sites offering Arabic content.

    “What Khaled says is true, because if you only speak Arabic, why would you be interested in the Internet?” said Paul Verhoef, a vice president at the International Corporation for Internet Names and Numbers (ICANN), which runs the .com register.

I do believe that Unicode will become the default character set of the DNS, but this article is correct; it’s going to take some time.

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