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Web learns to read Chinese, Arabic addresses

Brand owners should be aware of the imminent introduction of non-Latin characters for internet domain names both to protect their brand identities and to...

Brand owners should be aware of the imminent introduction of non-Latin characters for internet domain names both to protect their brand identities and to use them to reach a wider audience, says the CEO of Nominet, the national registry for .uk domain names.

Speaking from Korea, where the announcement was made, Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley said some 1.6 billion people use the internet and a further 5 billion are not yet online.

"Most of these people speak languages that are not based on the Latin script," she said. "Opening up the web to allow Asian, Arabic and other non-Latin based scripts will give everyone easier access to the web, making the internet more inclusive."

The internet will soon support website addresses in non-Roman scripts such as Arabic and Chinese following the approval last night of a new internationalised domain name fast-track process by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board.

ICANN chairman Peter Thrush said the fast-track process is the first step to using all the 100,000 characters of the world's languages for domain names.

Web experts have been testing the non-Latin characters for the past three years. Countries will be able to start testing country-code top-level domains from 16 November. Thrush said he expected to see the first non-Latin scripts in use inn 2010.

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