Universal Acceptance is one of the aspects of the Internet which deals with the inclusion of the internet or we can also say democratization of the internet by making the domain names and email addresses accessible/supported in multiple languages. This aspect not only refers to the technical implication but also connects multilingualism, cultural diversity and online identity on the internet. This panel is moderated by Ms Maria Kolesnikova who is Chief analyst at Coordination Center for Top Level domain. Mr. AJay Data, Mr. Akinori Maemura, MS. Jaonna Kulesza and Mr Yangyi Wu represented the panel.
Mr. Ajay Data highlighted that through Universal Acceptance we are trying to bring everybody on the Internet and leading towards democratization of the Internet and it could be the biggest festival in the world. He also shared that it is changing how we type domain names and email addresses as 1200 plus non-latin scripts generic top-level domain names are live today. He further emphasized that Univer Acceptance for digitally inclusive internet and ensuring that any domain name should be valid in any language and with any length and can be accepted equally throughout the internet. It also equally ensures the netizens to explore the intent in their native languages. He also shared that Economically by implementing UA-readiness email, domain and other service providers can reach next billion which is a spike in their profits as well so this not only is social it is also economical. He pointed to some figures showing the relevance that there are already 7 million live hindi email addresses and that’s just an example.
He further shared about the technicalities of Universal Acceptance he highlighted that if any application can accept, validate, process, store and display email address and domain name in any native/local language that’s ready for universal Acceptance. He also shared about the study done about the Universal Acceptance Readiness in 2020 and they found that only 9.7% of email servers support email addresses in local languages. The top companies like Google, Microsoft and apple has already passed the UA readiness test and they support local languages in their system.
In addition to Mr. Data Mr Akinori Maemura who is Board Member of ICANN BOD shared about IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) and the progress being made in the space of Top Level Domain names. He shared the experience that to avoid the instability of TLD name space while introducing new types of characters ICANN has spent more than a decade in setting up rules for new IDNs.
Afterwards Ms. Joanna Kulesza shared about the behavior analysis of end-users being carried out to understand about the expectations from online services by an average end-user. She also shared about their efforts being made for consumer protection and encouraging the underrepresented communities for their chances of being heard.
Followed by Ms. Kulesza, Mr Yangyi Wu who also serves as UA ambassador for china shared about the representation of Internet users from china which accounts for more than 40 million users. Among those users from China, only very few percent of people speak English fluently and are forced to access the internet with an English based domain name system and English content. He further shared that over 2 million domain names are registered from China which accounts for 85% of the global Top Level Domain Name market and the IDN project is a big hope for china. Similarly he also expressed his worries about the readiness of the technologies in regards to Universal Acceptance which might affect in losing the potential business traffic and customers which is very scary.
In addition to the discussion of domain name and email addresses the lack of contents in local languages was also raised significantly. The need for cooperation and the significant role of civil society to foster the adaptation of universal acceptance was relayed. The session concluded with encouraging all stakeholders to join hands to make the internet more inclusive and accessible.
This blog was written from the UN IGF Session on IGF 2020 WS #267 Universal Acceptance of Domain Names and Email Addresses