The aim of our recent IDN Survey of 2020 was to assess the support for internationalized domain names and mailbox names by ccTLD registries sheds light into how well ccTLD registries are adapting to new developments. Our 2020 IDN Survey offers insight into the scope of these technical changes and how successfully these changes are being employed at the registry level. The survey was organized by the Council of European National TLD Registries (CENTR) on behalf of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, and is closely aligned with the objectives of the IDN World Report.
A key finding from the survey shows 81% of the ccTLD registries support the registration of internationalized domain names at the second or third level for end users. With data from 88 countries and the EU, it is possible to conclude that a significant majority of top-level domain registries support the internationalized domain names. The survey highlights there has been significant uptake and support for the registration of internationalized domain names across the world. While largely concentrated in Europe, the geographical scope of the countries canvassed in the survey’s data demonstrates how internationalized domain names are being used internationally. The ccTLD.RU/ РФ survey was able to make more general comments regarding ccTLD usage. Interestingly most ccTLD registries record IDNs in two formats, Unicode and Punycode. Yet some ccTLDs record their IDNs in either Unicode or Punycode and of those two options more ccTLDs opt for using the latter.
Assessing all the IDN ccTLDs, Arabic is the most used script, followed by Cyrillic and then Chinese. Despite our 2020 Survey showing a high percentage of Arabic registries offering IDNs, EURid’s IDN World Report charts the volume of registrations and this shows Arabic does not feature in any of the top charts. This highlights how the most used script for IDN ccTLDs is not matched by the volume of registrations.
The Russian IDN Survey of 2020 also explored areas of the IDN industry which are less well- researched. For example, the Survey assessed how the domains are displayed in WHOIS and found most registries only display IDNs in Unicode in the web-based WHOIS. In contrast, just over one third of ccTLDs display domain names in national languages both when queried directly over port 43 and in the web-based WHOIS.
The Survey covered another novel area of the IDN industry - mailboxes. The Survey asked whether the registries operate mailboxes and concluded that corporate mail server support for Unicode mailbox names is permitted by almost forty percent of registries including the registries of Germany, Israel, Spain, Finland and Russia. However, email servers of almost half of these registries support this option only for sending and receiving messages from/to such mailboxes. The other half support the same functions and in addition support creating mailbox names and Unicode characters. However, the report does indicate internationalized domain names still find obstacles beyond ccTLD registries adopting their scripts. For example, only five ccTLD registries where (IDN registration is available) support Unicode mailbox names as a contact email address or registrant. The five ccTLD registries which allow Unicode mailbox names are Luxembourg, Finland, Chile and both the ASCII and IDN ccTLDs of UAE.
Mailbox names with Unicode symbols (before or after the @ symbol) are not permitted in the majority of contact emails within their registries. With regard to corporate mail server support, Unicode mailbox names are supported by 9 ccTLD registries, such as the registries in Chile, Finland, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Israel, and Germany. Despite the 2020 IDN Survey’s assessment signalling some areas of ccTLD registries do not yet have full integration of internationalized domain names and email address internationalization, overall there is still measurable success as ccTLD registries continue to adapt and accommodate support for internationalized domain names globally. The 2020 Survey may indicate progress for the demand of IDNs, the IDN industry still continues to face significant challenges.
Emily Taylor is the CEO of Oxford Information Labs. She is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and is the Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy and co-founder of ICANN accredited registrar, Oxford Information Labs.
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