Languages on the Move: Deploying Multilingualism on the Net

3 September 2014 - A Workshop on Other in Istanbul, Turkey

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

The workshop aimed to continue the study and investigation of how Internet can become more multilingual through the full deployment of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs). The 2014 EURid-UNESCO World Report on IDNs in cooperation with Verisign and the regional ccTLD organisations was officially presented. The Report includes new chapters about the human perception of the language in its different scripts and the introduction of the first IDN generic top-level domains. It also features an extended section on the universal acceptance of IDNs from the technical perspective.

The Report features a foreword of Vice-President Kroes who concludes that “only by pursuing a policy of multilingualism in Internet access can we give effect to our policy of an Internet that is truly global, and truly accessible to all.”

The workshop was organised as a round table with key speakers who have been working hard at multiple levels to ensure that Internet becomes more and more multilingual. Over 45 representatives of various stakeholder groups attended it.

While it seems that end users have become very comfortable to use their ASCII domain names, there are valid examples that the IDN.IDN domain names are extremely popular and used in certain countries like Russia and Korea. At the same time, various panelists underlined that the presence of a strong registrar network, structured marketing actions including incentives to use non-ASCII languages in the net, education of the entire domain name user chain and stronger cooperation with the big mobile applications and Internet players – the recent Gmail support of IDN is a major step forward – are essential to further promote IDNs.

The last gTLD round contributed very little to enhance online multilingualism despite of its objectives. Many participants recommended ICANN to introduce mechanisms to have adequate representation of languages in the next gTLD round.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

Although there are mixed feelings around the possible further uptake of IDNs in the near future, there is a general belief that the IDNs will emerge in the long term, especially considering the next billion end users that should access the net in the next decade. Therefore, all participants agreed that IDNs are still the best way to make the Internet a truly multilingual environment.

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop

50

Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

it was not seen as related to the workshop’s theme and was not raised

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

No information provided

Reported by

Giovanni Seppia