In the early days of the internet, domain names were available only in the Latin script traditionally used for the English language (restricted to the letters a-z, the numbers 0-9 and the hyphen). This is because computers are unable process special language characters such as ã or é in domain names. In order to create representations of the Latin characters that computers can understand, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is used. In practice this means that for example the domain name
Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) allow people whose first language is not made up of, or restricted to, letters of the Latin script to use their own language on the internet. Many country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) Registries allow registrations of second level domain names using the non- Latin characters most commonly used in their particular language.
However, following a public opinion survey for CZ NIC, the domain name Registry in the Czech Republic, the Czech public has surprisingly rejected the idea of IDNs for .CZ domain names for the fourth time. According to the results of the survey, 87% of organisations that responded and 62% of internet users objected to the introduction of IDNs. The number of organisations opposed to the use of IDNs, has increased by 6% compared to the previous survey taken in 2008. In comparison, the number of ordinary internet users opposed to the use of IDNs decreased by 4%. The survey results are clearly an important factor for CZ.NIC in terms of whether to accept or refuse IDNs for the .CZ domain name extension. It therefore looks as though they will not be introduced in the very near future, which goes against the actions of most other ccTLD Registries and is rather surprising.
Among the most common reasons given for opposing IDNs for .CZ domain names was an unwillingness to adapt to change, as well as the belief that the introduction of IDNs would make it more difficult for non-Czech internet users to access .CZ web sites. The survey also indicated that a "typical" individual supporter of IDNs was a woman over the age of fifty, living in a municipality with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants and who was an occasional user of the internet. This could possibly suggest that individuals less familiar with languages such as English were more supportive of IDNs being introduced for .CZ domain names. With regard to organisations, typical supporters of IDNs are non-profit organisations or entities active in the public administration, education, or health sectors.
“The repeated refusal of IDN was not a surprise. The last three surveys had very similar results and there have been no signs over the last two years pointing towards a change in this trend. Quite the opposite – in the long term, the negative attitude of the Czech Internet public toward IDN is growing” stated Ondrej Filip, Executive Director of CZ.NIC.
IDNs registered at the second level are not to be confused with Internationalised country code Top Level Domain Names (often referred to as IDN ccTLDs), which ICANN is currently in the process of rolling out in different scripts, meaning that entire domain names may now be written in non Latin characters, both before and after the dot (in this regard please see our article on the launch of . above).
To visit the CZ NIC website please go to: http://www.nic.cz/