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.