According to Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG), global internet servers will start accepting registration of website names as well as dot extension, in nine Indian languages by June 2019. Currently, only Devanagari script (script of Hindi language) and .bharat extension are accepted in website names.
The nine Indian scripts that will be fed into the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) root servers are Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil and Telugu.
To communicate over the Internet we have to type a website address in our computer and this address has to be unique so that the connection between the two computers can be established. ICANN is the organisation responsible for this coordination of unique identifiers or website addresses across the world.
ICANN currently supports booking of website names in several non-english scripts including Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Devanagari etc. However, the website extension (.com, .net, .in, etc) or the top-level domain (TLD) can be registered only in a limited set of characters that are identified by the root server. UASG is working to finalise standard characters of non-english scripts to be accepted by internet systems globally.
ICANN-backed Universal Acceptance Steering Group is a global Internet community initiative founded in 2015. The group works for the promotion of universal acceptance of all valid domain names and email addresses. It is made up of members from more than 120 companies (including Apple, GoDaddy, Google, Microsoft and Verisign), governments and community groups.
Building The Internet 4.0
“Once the LGR gets into the root zone of DNS (domain name server), then people will be able to register top level domain in their preferred language. This actually breaks the language barrier for people who cannot read or write in English but will be able to access the internet as good as English knowledge people can. This is revolutionary and may be considered Internet 4.0 which will impact 80% of the world.” UASG chairman Ajay Data told Inc42.
UASG has also been given the task to finalise standards for full website name in Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cyrillic, Greek, Latin, Sinhala, Thai and Georgian scripts.
“However, UASG will focus heavily on India, Russia, China, the UAE and Thailand as billions of people follow scripts that are used in these countries,” Data added.
The group also plans to engage with the Indian government, large enterprises, software and application developers, to make their system universally accessible and thus, enable one billion non-english speaking people to come online.
In 2012, ICANN expanded TLD systems from traditional .com, .org, .net to generic names. The international body had invited applications from companies, organisations and individuals who can invest $185K (over INR 1 Cr.) to buy specific words to replace the generic TLD names and other usual suffixes on their website addresses.