The .uk domain name registry Nominet is inviting views from the UK internet industry and the public on the implementation and use of internationalised domain names (IDNs).
Domain names worldwide are currently limited to using the letters A-Z, digits 0-9 and hyphens. The naming system currently excludes accented letters and other character sets or symbols. This can lead to difficulties in creating local domain names in Asian or Eastern European languages, for instance, where symbols are frequently used.
The IDN alternative has the potential to accommodate many more writing systems used around the world.
Nominet says pro-IDN arguments question why businesses on the internet should be prevented from selecting localised domain names, particularly if the organisation is targeting a specific local market whose first language may not be English.
There is also the argument that the internet is a global resource and should not continue to be dominated by Western organisations
Arguments against expanding domain name character sets include the fact that English remains the first language of business worldwide and the one that the majority of computers and keyboards are equipped to handle.
Also, opening up the domain name system to more symbols and permutations of names would greatly increase the opportunity for typo-squatting (the practice of registering domain names to take advantage of spelling or typing errors by users) and cyber-squatting (registering domain names that others might want, with a view to profiting from them).
Nominet is inviting feedback on its IDN consultation paper, which can be found at:
The consultation is open until 6 September.