Internationalization of Internet Domain Names

Paul Hoffman - Internet Mail Consortium

Intended Audience: Manager, Software Engineer, Systems Analyst
Session Level: Intermediate

Domain names on the Internet today can contain only a subset of ASCII characters. In the past few years, the importance of domain names for identifying companies, locations, departments, and projects has greatly increase. There is significant demand for domain names that include non-ASCII characters.

The IDN Working Group in the IETF is investigating how to upgrade the Internet's domain name system to handle fully internationalized domain names. This involves much more than just fixing the DNS: it also includes creating transition strategies for Internet protocols that cannot handle non-ASCII names (such as email, digital certificates, and network management). The working group is making good progress in their efforts, but there is still much to do.

Any change to domain names also inherently means that all user applications that handle domain names must be updated. Further, the all domain name servers on the Internet that might handle internationalized names will likely need to be updated as well.

This presentation covers an overview of the problem that the working group is trying to solve, a discussion of the current status of the efforts, and likely outcomes for the protocol. It includes a description of the DNS protocols, how they currently handle non-binary host names, and some of the proposed solutions that the working group is considering.

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21 Jun 2000, Webmaster