Non-English Domains Could Create Domain Confusion

Posted on November 27, 2006

The Sydney Moring Herald reports that ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey has raised serious concerns about expanding website domain names to include non-English characters.
Plans to fast-track the introduction of non-English characters in website domain names could "break the whole internet", warns ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey.

To date, website names can only be registered using Latin characters, which effectively alienates countries using Arabic, Chinese and other foreign letters from registering internet addresses in their native tongue.
Twomey said that number of possible characters that could be used in domains would soar from just 37 to over 50,000.
At present there are 37 possible characters that can be used in domain names, but if non-English letters are allowed, this number would rise to 50,000 or more, said Twomey.

He said that this could create problems where, for example, a character in Urdu looks identical to one in Arabic. This would confuse the system and make it difficult to direct users to the right website every time.
It would also increase the risk from phising.
Poor implementation of foreign domain names may also pose security risks, whereby fraud artists could create websites with names that appear identical to current English language sites, but in fact replace some of the English characters with similar-looking foreign characters.
We have to agree with Twomey that this would make domains considerably more complicated than they already are.