Taskforce clarifies administration of multilingual domain names

China

The Internet Engineering Taskforce has published guidelines to address problems relating to the use of multilingual domain names. The guidelines were written with input from the network information centres for China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and set out a framework to assist zone administrators in managing certain technical issues relating to domain names that use Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) characters.

The introduction of internationalized domain names (those containing scripts outside the scope of the original ASCII character set) has created the potential for confusion. The different use in different languages of CJK characters has given rise to the concept of variants - one CJK character can correspond to several different code points in computer character sets. The guidelines recommend the use of a language variant table in order to minimize confusion in the registration, transfer and use of CJK character domain names.

To implement the proposed language table effectively, the guidelines suggest the following model measures:

  • Each internationalized domain name should be associated administratively with one or more languages.

  • Each language should use only a specified subset of Unicode characters.

  • All labels generated from character variants should be reserved, and activated only on request from domain name holders pursuant to applicable local zone policies.

  • A zone should adopt procedures to include only linguistically acceptable (ie, user-friendly) labels in internationalized domain names and their variants.

  • Each internationalized domain name should be registered with its variant labels as a single unit. As such, an internationalized domain name may not be transferred or deleted individually, and any action relating to it will also affect its variants.

The variant table approach could be customized administratively to suit the different needs of individual CJK language zones. The guidelines also provide a useful road map for administrators in other language zones to develop similar measures for managing non-CJK internationalized domain names.

Cedric Lam and Pauline Woo, Perkins Coie, Hong Kong

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