Poor IDNs. The Media Will Never Understand.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
Recent coverage of internationalized domain names was erroneous.
They sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Or so the headlines read.
Last week I mentioned an article in The London Times about the introduction of domain names with non-Roman characters. As I noted, the article was completely wrong. It said that non-Roman characters will be allowed for the first time “to the left of the dot”, i.e. the second level domain name. Tell that to the people who’ve already registered millions of such names.
In truth, non-Roman characters will be allowed for the first time at the top level — the right of the dot. The key source in the article was an intellectual property owner. Apparently the author didn’t talk to ICANN.
But it doesn’t really matter what the truth is, because everyone has read the erroneous article and jumped on the bandwagon. Like the hundreds of comments on this article at Mashable, which basically referred to the Times article and gave an example of how PayPal users could be spoofed, again based on the second level domain name. It added this tidbit:
Pretty scary, no? As of right now, ICANN hasnâ€™t instituted any policies of trying to protect these kinds of situations, meaning it might be that much more difficult for even normally cautious users to avoid being scammed.
In truth, ICANN has been working on these sorts of issues for years. For example, you can’t mix scripts from different character sets, which was a popular way to make IDNs look like roman-language domains when they first became available.
I’ve seen a number of tweets lamenting the same fear over IDNs.
It’s true that brand owners now have more TLDs for which they need to protect their brands. But other than that, the Times story — and the echo chamber — missed the story.