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Soon, www will be in your language

[ 2009-10-27 14:07]     字号 [] [] []  
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The Internet is about to get more accessible for millions worldwide with the imminent approval of a new multilingual address system that uses Asian and Arabic scripts, a global regulator said yesterday.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said it would declare an end to the exclusive use of Latin characters for website addresses on Friday - the final day of its six-day conference in Seoul.

"This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago," Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board in charge of reviewing the change, told a press conference.

Thrush said he expected ICANN's full board to grant approval on Friday - a day after the 40th anniversary of the Internet's birth in a computer experiment by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

When the change comes into force, it will be possible to use characters from other languages - such as Chinese, Arabic, Korean and Japanese - for a full Internet address, instead of just part of the address now.

Enabling the change, Thrush said, is the creation of a translation system that allows multiple scripts to be converted to the right address.

"We're confident that it works because we've been testing it now for a couple of years," he said. "And so we're really ready to start rolling it out."

ICANN president Rod Beckstrom said the change - designed to serve the growing number of non-English-speaking Internet users - would come into effect in the middle of 2010. ICANN aims to start receiving applications next month.

"It will take some period of time to process the applications and then introduce the successful applications," Beckstrom told the news conference.

"Of the 1.6 billion Internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based," Beckstrom said.

"So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world's Internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the Internet continues to spread."

He said Internet addresses would no longer use limited "Generic Top-Level Domains" such as .com or .org, and instead use more flexible "Internationalized Domain Names" such as .post or .bank.

Beckstrom said the change would also allow Internet users to type fewer keystrokes to access a website which will "give companies a quicker way to get directly to their customers".

He said the world would be able to "save roughly 60 to 100 billion human keystrokes a day" by getting rid of keystrokes that are currently needed to find Web addresses ending, for example, in individual country codes.

Thrush said that under the new system, all Web addresses ending .bank would only be available to "authorized" banks.

The Seoul meeting will also debate cyber-security threats.

ICANN said in a statement the "threat to the domain name system is always increasing, as the world saw several months ago with the threat from the Conficker worm".

It said this prompted an unprecedented collaboration between ICANN and top security experts from Microsoft, Symantec and dozens of other companies, software vendors and organizations.

Malicious code such as Conficker can be triggered to steal data or turn control of infected computers over to hackers amassing "zombie" machines for criminal ends.

ICANN, formed in 1998 by the US government, was recently given more autonomy after Washington relaxed its control over how the Internet is run.


1. What is the major change ICANN is proposing to Internet addresses?

2. When is the change expected to come into effect?

3. How many of today’s 1.6 billion Internet users utilize a language that isn’t Latin-based?


1. Internet addresses will no longer be exclusively represented by Latin characters.

2. The middle of 2010.

3. More than half.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Soon, www will be in your language

About the broadcaster:

Soon, www will be in your language

Casey Chin is an intern at the China Daily's website. When he's not shooting or producing videos he's trying to learn Chinese. He's from Sacramento, California (no, he doesn't know Arnold Schwarzenegger) and he just graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in journalism.