The IDN Variant Issues Project explored the benefits and risks associated with the potential inclusion of International Domain Name (IDN) variant top level domains TLDs in the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone.
International Domain Names (IDNs) are domain names incorporating characters used in the local representation of languages that aren’t represented by the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet “a-z”.
An IDN will typically consists of local language non-latin scripts (eg Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Japanese) or latin characters, including diacritical marks or accents in respect of some European languages.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN), the global authority on Internet domain names, had approved and enabled top level domain names using non-Latin script in November 2009. It has already implemented IDNs gradually at the top level for the first time in internet history. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the first countries to have country codes written in Arabic scripts.
ICAAN has just published a copy of a study of the issues identified in relation to the management of IDN variant TLDs, the second phase of their project titled the Integreted Issues Project upon which ICAAN seeks community input before meeting again in April 2012.
Six case study teams have already examined the range of variant issues associated with particular scripts Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Greek, and Latin.
The discussion paper published makes references to a broad range of policy, technical, stability and security of the operation of the DNS and user experience issues associated with the possible inclusion in the DNS root zone of IDN variant TLDs.
ICAAN hasn’t yet developed a variant management mechanism for the delegation of IDN variant TLDs. However as the Domain Name root zone is a shared resource, it’s management should accommodate the users of numerous global scripts to be inclusive.
For example the DNS root zone has been limited to a subset of the characters in the US-ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) character set. Requests for IDN ccTLDs representing different country or territory names in scripts other than US-ASCII characters is required for internationalised domain names in a variety of scripts.