Making new internet domains work for everyone
Since 2010 the Domain Name System (DNS) has expanded dramatically, not only fueling competition, choice and innovation, but truly enabling a multi-lingual Internet. There are now more than a 1,500 top-level domains (TLDs), many of which are longer than the traditional two- and three-character names (e.g. .com, .edu, .nz, and .org) or are in non-ASCII based scripts - such as Arabic, Cyrillic and Thai. In New Zealand, InternetNZ has offered domain names in Maori also since 2010.
The expansion allows people to claim a domain name that best reflects their sense of identity. While this expansion is critical in bringing the next billion people online and growing the global Internet economy, the incorporation of these new domains across the global Internet is not an entirely automatic process. CIOs, web administrators, application developers and others have an important role to play in making sure their applications are compatible with the evolved Internet infrastructure. That's why we're reaching out to make sure you know about this change.
The issue at hand
Many organisations and business have not updated their systems to accommodate the new domains or, in other words, become Universal Acceptance (UA)-ready. As a result, many applications and Internet-connected devices and systems are unable to accept, validate, store, process or display all domain names. This causes problems for organizations and headaches for users because if the applications do not recognise or appropriately process the new domain names or email addresses that use these extensions, it will result in lost customers and a poor user experience.
Resources available to assist you
To address these issues and provide support, stakeholders and industry leaders such as Apple, GoDaddy, Google, ICANN, Microsoft and Verisign, created the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG). The UASG exists to help organizations ensure their systems are UA-ready and able to accept all domain names and email addresses in any valid script.
The UASG has developed helpful guides and resources which are available here. Of particular note is the Quick Guide to Universal Acceptance (UASG005) as well as the Introduction to Universal Acceptance (UASG 007), a comprehensive technical document on Universal Acceptance and the key issues that developers and system architects need to know.
We encourage you to visit our website and view these useful materials, and to get involved with the UASG (you can join the mailing list) so we can work together to fully incorporate these new domains for the benefit of the next generation of internet users.
Don Hollander is a New Zealand based former CIO for very large domestic and international corporations. He has been involved in the New Zealand IT industry for many years and served as the Chair of TUANZ in the last 1990s. Currently, Don is Secretary General of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group.
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