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ICANN Introduces IDN Oversight Agency
ICANN has formed an internal oversight agency to deal with the much-awaited international Domains (IDNs) it intends to introduce in the near future. ICANN began sandbox testing of IDNs last month, but questions of policy are not even close to being resolved. Therefore the agency will be responsible for managing interim solutions to such problems as the assigning to registries of what may become disputed TLDs, such as the Chinese character version of the current Chinese TLD, .cn.
Another problem that the agency will need to consider is whether countries with more than one official language will be immediately assigned IDNs in all of those languages, or whether only one non-English TLD will be allowed initially.
Vint Cerf, in his last meeting as chair of ICANN, noted that the mere creation of a non-English top level domain name will not lead to more non-English content on the web of its own accord. Many commentators have pointed out the North Atlantic bias of the Internet, with the vast majority of its content being in English. While IDNs may help non-English content to be found more easily by those who will be most interested in it, they will not in themselves boost the quantity of such content available. Therefore Cerf implied that a campaign of encouragement for non-English language speakers to produce content in their own languages would complement the introduction of IDNs.
During this period of change, ICANN has also agreed to consider again the 40 or so applications for new domain names made in 2000 which were never approved. These were never officially rejected, and ICANN intends to review their status before the next call for applications, which is likely to occur next year.