Fragmented domain names could destabilize Internet, ICC warns

  • 7 July 2006

The International Chamber of Commerce today warned that designs by China and other countries to create their own domain name systems in Letters Digits Hyphen (LDH) for locating data on the Internet exposes the Internet to new risks that could destabilize it if technical and logistical issues are not urgently addressed.

In cooperation with its member companies around the world, ICC published a seven-page report today explaining the issues and stressing the consequences if the Internet is not made more accessible in other languages in a manner that ensures its flexibility, stability and global interoperability.

ICC said that a central global registry is crucial to ensure seamless universal access and to expand Internet use, especially in the developing world.

China, Russia and Brazil are considering assigning their own domain names to the numbered Internet Protocol addresses as a political counterweight to the U.S. Memorandum of Understanding with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Since the inception of the Internet, ICANN has been the central authority fulfilling this role.

ICC does not favour the management of Internet addresses by a variety of entities since it would result in an uncoordinated, conflicting and fractured Internet. Instead, ICC supports ICANN and the continued use of UNICODE, a globally uniform encoding system used to assign domain names to the numbered Internet Protocol addresses. UNICODE is continuously expanding to include the characters of more languages.

For example, new internationalized domain names (IDNs) now appear using UNICODE scripts to translate a domain name written in Latin or Roman language characters to its equivalent in a language using a different alphabet. Thus “” also exists in the Arabic script version. ICC acknowledges the expansion of UNICODE to include more languages and stresses that such expansion must take place using a globally uniform methodology. A single interpretation of syntax and semantics applied to IDNs is necessary because language usage varies widely across the globe.

One global system is critical for other reasons as well. For example, further upgrade, maintenance and resolution of disputes regarding IDNs must proceed in a globally consistent way.

“Unless this process is carefully and centrally implemented, domain names may lead to fragmentation and threaten the stability, integrity and security of the Internet,” said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chair of ICC’s Commission on E-business, IT and Telecoms (EBITT), which published its paper on internationalized domain names today.

Addressing the concerns of businesses worldwide, the chair of ICC’s Internet and IT Services Task Force, Allen Miller said: “The introduction of IDNs is an important step towards true global diffusion of the Internet. Multiple authorities would pose serious problems for the protection of intellectual property rights, would marginalize Internet users in the developing world and create islands of users blocked from full global access.”