ICANN to fast-track internationalized domain names

Testing already under way for creation of domains in local-language script rather than in Latin characters, says ICANN official.

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will speed development of country-coded top-level domains and local-language scripting, the group announced Wednesday at the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro.

ICANN, the worldwide nonprofit organization that regulates the Internet's domain name system, or DNS, has launched its campaign to provide internationalized country code top-level domains, or ccTLDs--those that don't use Latin characters--as soon as possible with the help of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization, an ICANN policy development body for ccTLD issues.

"A lot of hard work has been done on IDNs (internationalized domain names) and there is a technical evaluation of their impact...going on as we speak," ccNSO Chairman Chris Disspain said in a statement.

"The next step is to develop the policies that will see the creation of new top-level domains in characters from the languages of the world," Disspain said.

ICANN's board approved the establishment of an IDN working group at a meeting in Los Angeles earlier this month.

"The goal behind the fast-track process is to find a way to represent territory identifications in their local languages in operation as ccTLDs as quickly as possible," said Disspain.

Disspain went on to say that the immediate goal in the process is to establish ccTLDs in the "areas of highest need" first, and to avoid any unnecessary impositions on the long-term plans for the full implementation of IDNs.

"This fast-track process will really be driven by those who want to take part and get their name in their language on their Internet in their country," Disspain said.

The announcement comes less than a month after ICANN elected New Zealand lawyer Peter Dengate Thrush as its new chairman, replacing Internet pioneer Vint Cerf.

Marcus Browne of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.