Almost 14 years after the first non-Latin domain names were added to the DNS root, ICANN has finally declared itself IDN-compatible.
“ICANN staff can now send emails to and receive emails from internationalized email addresses,” the Org said in a blog post today.
“ICANN also supports short and long ASCII top-level domains in all systems, as well as ASCII-based Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in Punycode (A-label) in public-facing systems,” Org added. “In addition, IDNs in Unicode (U-label) work in ICANN’s public-facing systems.”
It’s the weakest brag imaginable.
ICANN is the organization that is tasked with ensuring the internet’s naming and addressing systems are interoperable globally. It’s the one organization on the planet that absolutely, by definition, has to deal with the owners of IDNs.
And yet it’s taken almost 14 years for this milestone to be reached. The first IDN TLDs — the Arabic translations of the ccTLDs of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — were delegated to the DNS root May 5, 2010.
As my post from that time reflects, IDN support then, even in browsers, was awful.
There have been 159 IDN TLDs in the root since the first batch (about half a dozen or so were dot-brands that have since been retired) and a great many Latin-script TLDs support IDNs at the second level.
To be fair, ICANN cannot shoulder all the blame for this tardiness. Presumably, Org uses the same off-the-shelf email systems as the rest of us, so it would have been reliant on its vendors to add the necessary support.
Today’s blog post notes that ICANN had to work with its technology partners to impress upon them the importance of IDN support and Universal Acceptance in general.
ICANN has made greater IDN adoption one of its main goals of the forthcoming next application round of the new gTLD program, part of an effort to get more registries founded in currently under-served regions.
But there are some who believe this focus on IDNs has come at the cost of ignoring Universal Acceptance issues affecting Latin-script TLDs.
Popular social networking apps — surely the most common vector for link-sharing nowadays — have been found lacking in their support for the most recently created TLDs, and some say ICANN has failed its duty to reach out to developers to school them on UA.
Last year, the CEO of .tube discovered that popular software was relying on a hard-coded list of TLDs in the Android operating system that had not been updated since November 2015, meaning the 468 TLDs that have been delegated since then would not be recognized as domains and not “linkified” when shared on apps such as WhatsApp.
It also seems that Twitter as of this week is still relying on a hard-coded TLD list that has not been updated since 2020, meaning domains in the three TLDs that have been delegated since then — .spa, .kids and .music — are not linkified.
Given how simple updating a TLD list should be, and given that somebody at ICANN presumably has the ear of somebody at Twitter or Meta or Google or wherever — Android updated its list pretty quickly when alerted to to the problem by .tube — it’s baffling to me that these problems persist in the light of ICANN’s stated focus on UA.
The post After 14 years, ICANN practices what it preaches on IDNs first appeared on Domain Incite.