ICANN eyeing non-English domain names

New Internet addresses, including those entirely in foreign languages, are under review by a key oversight agency, although meetings this week in Puerto Rico are likely to conclude with more questions, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) scheduled several discussion sessions in San Juan on separate proposals to more rapidly expand the pool of domain name suffixes, the '.com' part of an email or web address, and to permit non-English characters for the first time.

Individuals and companies outside the US long have clamored for non-English scripts, finding restrictive the current limitation to the 26 English letters, 10 numerals and the hyphen, the report said.

Addresses partly in foreign languages are sometimes possible, but the suffix itself for now requires non-English speakers to type English characters, the report said.

Engineers also will continue work on tests to make sure the non-English scripts won't disrupt users' ability to send email and reach web sites, it added.
Nonsensical strings will be entered into the retrofitted domain name system and can be quickly removed if trouble arises, the report said.

Meanwhile, ICANN has scheduled workshops to discuss procedures for additional domain suffixes in English. It would be the third major round and the first beyond a pilot since the system was created in the 1980s, the report further said.