Story shines light on fears of IDNs, but it’s really an issue of ccTLDs.
The reaction was swift and positive — finally, after years of typing in Latin-based top level domains, people who use different character sets would soon be able to type in new top level domain names in their own alphabets.
What’s not to love about that? Apparently a lot. A story in yesterday’s New York Times says that many Russians are wary of their government’s plans to introduce a Cyrillic IDN country code top level domain name. They’re concerned it’s just another way for the government to censor them.
But now, computer users are worried that Cyrillic domains will give rise to a hermetic Russian Web, a sort of cyberghetto, and that the push for Cyrillic amounts to a plot by the security services to restrict access to the Internet. Russian companies are also resisting Cyrillic Web addresses, complaining about costs and threats to online security.
To be fair, I’m not sure that this is an IDN issue. It’s more of a country code issue. ICANN has very little say on how country code domain names are administered, and it’s wise to not use a country code top level domain in a country that doesn’t value freedom. That’s why so many people in China shun .cn in favor of .com or even .org.
very good analysis. A lot of people misunderstood this NYTimes article. Thanks
Philip Corwin says
The article also reports —
But holders of .ru Web sites will have to decide whether to establish companion sites with Cyrillic addresses and the Cyrillic suffix. Many may not be enthusiastic.
In late November, Mr. Kolesnikov’s agency opened up registration to companies with Russian trademarks that wanted to use them as Cyrillic Web addresses. Of about 50,000 trademarks that were available, only about 4,000 had been registered as addresses so far.
“The new system will be very inconvenient,” said Aleksandr Malis, president of Evroset, one of the largest cellphone and electronics retailers in Russia, which has not applied for a Cyrillic domain. “It will not give us any more clients because I do not see a way to get people to use these new Web sites.”
Some companies said they would acquire Cyrillic domains mostly to protect themselves from so-called cybersquatters who might otherwise take over the domains and harm their businesses. Others worried about viruses or scams.
“This is a major headache for Russian companies,” said Aleksandr Gostev, an executive in Moscow at Kaspersky Lab, an Internet security company. “It is a wide new field for fraudsters.”
The authorities countered that they did not believe that the domains would touch off more crime.
–these issues of cybersquatting and defensive registrations, phishing and other scams, and malware were loudly raised in regard to new gTLDs. But so far as I know they were barely raised at all in regard to IDNs.Was that because they weren’t recognized — or because it was deemed politically incorrect to raise them in regard to IDNs, especially those on ccTLDs?
I would not be implying that many in China would make choice of a domain on “Freedom” issue. Dissident sites will be for sure. But commercial sites-why? There is no reason for them to chose .com over .cn
As usual there is more to it than meets the eye.
First off, the Russians never wanted dot RF (.рф), they wanted the familiar, already in use dot RU (.py) but couldn’t get it as the Russian py characters look way to much like Paraguay’s ascii ccTLD
Secondly, the registration cost initially is $300,000 each unless you had a valid trademark, but alas trademarks have been granted weeks before the sunrise period and accepted for all sorts of generic domains like sex and sport etc.. the whole thing is immersed in scandal.
Lastly, they say there will be no censorship, yet there is a huge list of “reserved” (unregisterable terms) like all geos. No adult terms of any nature. And quote: whatever the central and local government decides it requires. The most recently announced reserved term is “blog”
This ccTLD is D.O.A
Things will get more interesting though when the Russian version of com is released.. you can’t go wrong with no censorship, no reserved lists, and no BS scandals.
John Berryhill says
“these issues of cybersquatting and defensive registrations, phishing and other scams, and malware were loudly raised in regard to new gTLDs. But so far as I know they were barely raised at all in regard to IDNs.”
Don’t forget “root scaling”. None of these are problems with IDN ccTLD’s, because they are magic, and the TLD Fairy smiles upon them.
People in China get .com because
1) it’s cheaper
2) it has an “international look”
It has very little to do with the “freedom” issue.
Andrew Allemann says
@ KL – that’s part of it. But a lot of dissident sites have stayed away from .cn for obvious reasons.