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Greek IDN blocked due to non-existent domain

Kevin Murphy, April 1, 2011, 14:58:46 (UTC), Domain Registries

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.

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Comments (20)

  1. Acro says:

    The IDN application for .ελ is a travesty, when the .gr market is not even close to being saturated.
    The application was supported by a dozen “Greek geeks” and nothing beyond that has any practical scope.
    Regardless of the “right” to enable the IDN ccTLD matching the first two letters of Ελλάς – Greece in Greek – the market for such use is non-existent.
    I’ve expanded on the Greek IDN subject a while back at

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      That’s good insight Acro, thanks.

      • David Wrixon says:

        Or was that incite.
        Acro has his own agenda. It has nothing to do with the interests of the Greek nation.

        • Acro says:

          Not to dig an old post, but last time I checked, my ‘agenda’ seems to be my objectivity and lack of bias, despite being 100% Greek. Or is ‘Wrixon’ a rare surname alongside Papadopoulos?

    • John says:

      Thats not true! greek geeks (roughly 1% of the popyulation) are the ones that are used in english and greeklish!
      All the rest of the greeks prefere their native language (inclouding myself!)
      if greek domain names would work with a greek top level name like ΑΓΟΡΑ.ΕΛ then almost every single webpage would change or atleast have such a domain as a subdomain.
      more and more greek websites ban greeklish (typing greek words using latin letters) and the reason while it still exist is mostly because of the incompatibility of greek characters (in electronics) though supporting 100% greekdomains with greek characters even for the top level names would bring a huge rush to the greek developer community to rencode services and programs so that they have a more native support to greek language
      investing in .ελ is a long shot but very lucritive investment!

  2. Acro says:

    Incidentally, the alleged resemblance between the Greek lambda “Λ” and alpha “A” is a big joke, that NASA seems to have contributed to by creating a logo that read like “NΛSΛ” and using it from 1975-1992.

  3. MS says:

    This further shows that registrants who got e.g .com idn’s will be the only ones who get these same domains with the localized .com ‘version’ (.com is .ком in Russian or .קום in Hebrew) as anything else is going to cause confusion and that isn’t an option it seems even when the confusing TLD don’t exist…
    More on Greek IDN’s:

  4. Epsilon and Lambda are not confusingly similar to “e” and “a”. Especially “a” and “λ”

  5. yanni says:

    According to Vaggelis Segredakis (of the dot GR registry who applied for .ελ), the IDNA2008 protocol does NOT allow capital letters.
    So he asks “Why was the decision based on the capital letters which are not part of the DNS?”,_Vaggelis_Segredakis,

  6. […] The application for .бг was made under ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program, which has approved a couple dozen non-Latin ccTLDs, and rejected one other. […]

  7. […] The application for .бг was made under ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program, which has approved a couple dozen non-Latin ccTLDs, and rejected one other. […]

  8. Dimitris says:

    It is amazing how people claim what letter looks similar to what. Based on what? Was there a survey? And what if Λ looks like A, which it doesn’t. How is that protecting?

  9. L.T. says:

    That is ridiculous! Alpha and lamda are distinctive letters for some thousand years now. There is no chance anyone could write the Greek domain name, switch to Latin (alt+shift) and then press .ea or .EA and not notice it.
    The only case I see a confusion is that: in the future a cool “” wants to use its domain in an advertisement with the cool-nasa-like A as Λ, like http://WWW.COMPΛNY.EΛ. But this will confuse the Greek readers of the advertisement with the Greek ccTLD .ΕΛ (!) So what we do? Reject the ccTLD, and leave a country without a native encoding domain option!!!!
    I also have to add, that without a Greek ccTLD, any Greek IDN looses its meaning, because no one would choose a domain, that requires typing in 2 different encodings.
    If internet is free for every people on this earth, and not a property of american IANA, every nation MUST given at least one IDN ccTLD.
    This is a matter that FSF and similar organizations must take seriously. This things cannot rely on americans or IANA, its a global issue.
    Also, greeklish are in decline, and in fact every webmaster in forums etc is prohibiting/discouraging people from writing greeklish, because they are really inconvenient to read, in sentences with more than a few words, even *if* you are accustomed to Latin for years.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Mayan alphabet is very distinctive for some thousand years now.

      • L.T. says:

        It is indeed, but I am unfortunately missing the point in your comment. Other than their long history, whats the relation between the current official Greek alphabet, and Mayan hieroglyphics?
        It was _not_ my argument that any long lived alphabet must receive IDN ccTLDs.

  10. Common sense wanted says:

    Typical for Americans. They act like they own the internet! Shame on IANA. I agree 100% with L.T. And why was the decision based on the capital letters which are not part of the DNS? Where is your common sense gentlemen? If a country can not choose any domain name fits their language, what’s the point of using this protocol??

  11. reale says:

    the rights and comfort of a “possible” future .ea applicant are higher than those of a real, “right now” applicant. (Following the silly rhetoric of ICANN:) I don’t understand why shouldn’t the future .ea application be rejected because it resembles .ελ? surreal…

Leave a Reply to Dimitris