Greece’s request for .ελ, a version of .gr in its local script, was rejected by ICANN because it looked too much like .EA, a non-existent top-level domain, it has emerged.
Regular readers will be familiar with the story of how Bulgaria’s request for .бг was rejected due to its similar to Brazil’s .br, but to my knowledge the Greeks had not revealed their story until this week.
In a letter to the US government, George Papapavlou, a member of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, called the process of applying for an IDN ccTLD “long and traumatic”.
He said that Greece had to jump through “completely unnecessary” hoops to prove its chosen string was representative of the nation and supported by its internet community, before its application was finally rejected because it was “confusingly similar” to a Latin string.
“IANA has no right to question languages or local Internet community support. Governments are in the position of expressing their national Internet communities,” Papapavlou wrote.
The capital letters version of .ελ (ΕΛ) was considered to be confusingly similar to the Latin alphabet letters EA. The possibility of such confusion for a Greek language speaker, who uses exclusively Greek alphabet to type the whole domain name or address, to then switch into capital letters and type EA in Latin alphabet is close to zero. After all, there is currently no .ea or .EA ccTLD.
That’s true. There is no .ea. But that’s not to say one will not be created in future and, due to the way ccTLD strings are assigned, ICANN would not be able to prevent it on stability grounds.
Papapavlou called for “common sense” to be the guiding principle when deciding whether to approve an IDN ccTLD or not.
That is of course only one side of the story. Currently, ICANN/IANA does not comment on the details of ccTLD delegations, so it’s the only side we’re likely to see in the near future.
AusRegistry International has announced it has been picked to provide the back-end registry for عمان., the Arabic-script internationalized domain name for Oman.
It’s the company’s third IDN ccTLD contract in the region, following on from Qatar’s forthcoming قطر. and the United Arab Emirates’ already-live امارات.
The company’s press release suggests to me that it’s a software/support deal, rather than a full-blown hosted back-end registry solution.
AusRegistry said it will “provide Domain Name Registry Software and supporting services for the establishment of a new Domain Name Registry System”.
It has previously announced back-end deals for ASCII ccTLDs including .qa and .ae, and manages Australia’s .au, which recently passed the two million domains milestone.
The deal with Oman, which AusRegistry said was competitively bid, also encompasses .om, the nation’s regular ccTLD.
While ICANN approved Oman’s chosen string under its IDN ccTLD Fast Track program back in October, it has not yet been delegated to the DNS root zone.
With the approval of Ukraine’s Cyrillic ccTLD last week, 25 territories have had their choice of local-script ccTLD given the nod under the program.
ICANN is set to approve 11 new internationalized domain name ccTLDs, representing four nations in Asia and the Middle East, at its board meeting next week.
On the January 25 consent agenda – which is typically rubber-stamped without discussion – is the approval of IDN ccTLDs for South Korea, India, Singapore and Syria.
Korea is due to get .한국, Singapore gets . 新加坡 (Chinese) and .சிங்கப்பூர் (Tamil), while Syria gets the Arabic string .سورية.
Massively polyglot India will be delegated its ccTLD in seven of its most-popular languages.
This week, the ccTLD for Thailand went live with Thai-language registrations under .ไทย. You can watch a video of ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom congratulating the nation here.
Also on ICANN’s agenda next week is the re-delegation of the ASCII ccTLDs for Burkina Faso, Congo and Syria – .bf, .cd and .sy respectively – to new registry managers.
IANA quietly created three new country-code top-level domains shortly before Christmas, to represent the new nations created by the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles last year.
None of the strings are currently delegated. The governments of the respective nations will have to apply to IANA if they want to start using their TLDs on the internet.
The days of chancers moving in to colonize island ccTLDs (eg .nu) may have passed, but there are still opportunities for domain name businesses to make a buck here.
The most recent new ccTLD, .me, was assigned to Montenegro in 2007. The registry’s partners include Go Daddy and Afilias.
I’m sure overseas domain name companies are already sniffing around the newly minted countries.
But these nations are small, and they don’t seem to have lucked out by being assigned strings with much secondary semantic value, so I can’t imagine we’re looking at high-volume TLDs.
Sint Maarten’s .sx may be an exception, due to its resemblance to “.sex”, which is quite likely, I think, to be created as a gTLD under ICANN’s upcoming new TLDs program.
If and when .sx is delegated, the country will have to bear this potential for confusion in mind when it’s designing its registration policies.
Will it want to keep its national brand respectable, or will it cash in on possible future typosquatting?
The Netherlands Antilles officially split in October. It took about three months for the three strings to be added to the ISO 3166 list (pdf), and another week for IANA to add the ccTLDs to its database.
The string AN, for the dissolved country, has also been deleted from the 3166 list. What happens to .an the ccTLD is a whole other story.
A Bulgarian domain name association has had its request for information about ICANN’s rejection of the domain .бг itself rejected.
As I blogged last month, Uninet had filed a Documentary Information Disclosure Policy request with ICANN, asking it to publish its reasons for rejecting the Cyrillic ccTLD.
The organization wants to run .бг, which is broadly supported in Bulgaria, despite the fact that ICANN has found it would be confusingly similar to Brazil’s .br.
Uninet believes it needs more information about why the string was rejected, in advance of a planned appeal of its rejection under the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process.
But the group has now heard that its request “falls under multiple Defined Conditions of Nondisclosure set forth in the DIDP” because it covers internal communications and “trade secrets”, among other things.
ICANN’s response suggests instead that Uninet contact the Bulgarian government for the information.
I’m told that Uninet may now file a Reconsideration Request in order to get the data it needs, although I suspect that’s probably optimistic.