Last October I referred to the debate over whether the domain name system should continue to be overseen by a licensee of the US Commerce Department in “Viviane Reding: Internet Governance – the European Perspective”. That issue appears to have died down but if an article by Monika Ermert in today’s Intellectual Property Watch “Who Shall Own .China or .Arabia? Internet IP Questions On The Rise” is right we may soon have a much bigger one involving players who have far less in common with the US government than the EC or its member states.
The new battleground will be over internationalized domain names, that is to say domain names in languages other than English or rather those that are not written in Latin script. According to Monila Ermert the Chinese domain name authority has already set up a Chinese .com domain outside the existing structures and there are signs that other authorities and domain name authorities from Arabic speaking countries have already set up Arab character root servers. Up to now, the development of the domain name system has not really been a cause of international friction but Ms Ermert quotes an Indian government spokesman’s call for intergovernmental negotiations like the trade talks.
“In two, three years time I will be seeing countries negotiating over who should be taking the first right over a particular name or how do you give the priority to a particular resource that has been created on the multilingual environment.”
Not all of those issues will be between Americans and the rest of the world. Disputes between language groups that share similar characters could arise.