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BizReport : Domain Names : July 13, 2010

ICANN approves Chinese character domain names

Chinese-speaking Internet users will soon find it much easier to browse as the creation of domains using only Chinese characters has been approved.

by Helen Leggatt

The Internet is about to become more accessible for around 1 billion users thanks to a decision by ICANN to allow Chinese characters in domain names.

The move follows earlier changes allowing Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE to register domains using non-Latin characters.

Known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) they are intended to address the fact that while the majority of Internet content is in English almost 60% of users aren't native English speakers.

Paul Denlinger, an Internet consultant specializing in the Chinese market, believes the move is as great in historical importance as it is practical.

"Chinese learn pinyin, so they know how to write Chinese using Roman characters -- every educated Chinese knows that 'hulianwang' for instance means Internet," he told AFP.

"The biggest significance is that the Internet now more closely conforms to the real world in which people live. The period of exclusive Western-style communications and alphabets comes to an end, and a more multilingual, multicultural Internet begins to take shape."

At the same meeting the .xxx domain, which will cater to pornographic websites, was also approved.

Tags: Chinese, domain name, ICANN, IDN, non-Latin

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