EU Allows Local Language URLs

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The process of making the web more inclusive rolls on with non-Latin letters allowed in website domains using the .eu suffix

EU member states will now be able to register URLs using the .eu suffix using all 23 languages of the European Union, the authority has announced.

In a statement released late last week, the EU said that under rules over internationalised domain names adopted by the European Commission in June, member states can now register website names that contain non-Latin characters.

“Internationalised Domain Names under .eu, our European Top Level Domain, are a big step towards a truly global and at the same time local Internet. Many Internet users will come from countries where most languages are not based on the ‘a to z’ Latin script and they will naturally want to use their own scripts,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Information Society Commissioner. “The launch of international domain names under .eu will respond even better to the needs of a multilingual and multicultural Europe.”

According to the EU it is now possible to register names using characters like “à”, “ä”, or “ψ” under “.eu”. For example, the EU said that Spanish and Basque speakers will now be able to register names with “ñ” while French, Portuguese and Catalan speakers can use “ç”.

The next step in the process is to allow international variations on the actual .eu suffix according to the EU.

The web regulating body, known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), announced that it would open up the domain name system to non-Latin characters in late October. It introduced an International Domain Name (IDN) fast track process, which it claims will bring “the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names”. Egypt has already expressed its intention to be the first nation to have a domain name using Arabic script.

While ICANN’s strategy to introduce IDNs promises to broaden the scope of the Internet and move it away from a US-centric domain structure, some commentators have expressed concern that rapid growth in the number of domains will lead to issues of root scaling, cybersquatting and trademark infringement. The problem could be further exacerbated by the impending introduction of new top level domain names (TLDs), which will potentially lead to an overwhelming amount of cyber-clutter.

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ICANN has been criticised for the delay in its introduction of TLDs by people wanting to start their own “dot-anything” domain, but the Internet regulator has said it has to be careful. “We’re aware that delay favours incumbents. We’re aware that delay is costly and may, in fact, deprive us, if it goes on for much longer, of the very innovation that this project was intended to help stimulate,” admitted ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate-Thrush.


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