The Internet's governing body has approved a new domain name process that will allow for non-Latin characters.
The Fast Track Process will launch on November 16, and will allow countries and territories to apply for domain names in their native language with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). If ICANN approves the application, those countries will then be able to start approving registrations.
The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago, ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said in a statement. Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters - A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names.
Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and CEO, speculated that the move could bring billions of more people online - people who have never used Roman characters in their daily lives, he said.
The effort has been in the works for years, ICANN said, but organizers had to get around technical issues, policy development, and global cooperation.
Our work on IDNs [internationalized domain names] has gone through numerous drafts, dozens of tests, and an incredible amount of development by volunteers since we started this project, said Tina Dam, ICANN's Senior Director for IDNs. The launch of the Fast Track Process will be an amazing change to make the Internet an even more valuable tool, and for even more people around the globe.