At its annual meeting, the board of ICANN approved the use of Chinese, Arabic and other non-Latin-script languages for domain names. Currently, domains are limited to 36 specific characters, namely, the Latin alphabet, numerals and the hyphen. The change is expected to further the reach of the Internet through a more inclusive domain name interface. ICANN said applicants for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) may apply as of November 16, 2009 and the first domains are expected to be up and running in mid-2010.
The initial names will relate to country code type top level domains (ccTLDs) and non-Latin versions of popular domains like .com and .org will not be available in the first wave.
Numerous technological hurdles and domain name policies remain to be resolved before IDNs become universal. For example, policies will need to be implemented to balance the rights of brand owners and current owners of Latin-script names with those governments pushing for control of IDNs.
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