The internet regulator Icann has voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow non-latin-script web addresses. This means that you could have domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts.
This move is set to transform the internet and will be the most complicated code change in over four decades.
Icann were set up by the US Government in 1998 to oversee the development of the internet. The US Government eased its control over the non profit body last month after years of intense criticism. They signed a new agreement which gives Icann independence for the first time since it was set up. The agreement came into effect on the 1st October and this puts it under the scrutiny of the global internet community.
In some countries they have already introduced solutions to the language barrier, setting up alternatives to the standard Latin-script. This allows users to enter web addresses in their own language. However, these are not internationally approved and do not work on all computers.
The BBC suggests that it will most likely be Chinese and Arabic script, followed by Russian that are the first non-Latin internet addresses.
Icann said it would accept the first applications for IDNs by 16 November, with the first up and running by “mid-2010”.
According to the BBC Icann president and CEO Rod Beckstrom said “Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based. So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.”