For any device to communicate with another on the Internet, it needs a unique identifier – a name or an Internet Protocol (IP) address. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) community develops policies that allow these identifiers to work well. Until 2010, the global Domain Name System (DNS) only allowed Top Level Domains (TLDs) which are in the Latin script. The DNS then expanded to include Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) for country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) and domain names for other TLDs. However, many language scripts and writing styles are used around the world, many of which are currently not supported by web browsers, email clients and software applications. This is where Universal Acceptance (UA) comes in.
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UA helps to remove technical barriers for users, meaning that all TLDs should be able to work within all software and email applications regardless of the language script or number of characters. It is a foundational requirement for a truly multilingual Internet to remove linguistic barriers for accessing the Internet by allowing people to use native/indigenous languages and in turn bringing more people online.
According to the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) country readiness report (2020), the goal of UA is for these email addresses 测试1@server.technology and السعودية.رسيل@دون to have the same rate of acceptance as firstname.lastname@example.org. However, many organisations and businesses have not yet updated their systems to make this possible. In 2020, 9.7% of email servers were potentially configured to support email addresses in local languages and scripts. Chinese and Arabic are among the top spoken languages globally, yet only 11% of the top 1,000 websites globally support email addresses in these languages.
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- Sarmad Hussain, Jean-Jacques Sahel, Gabriella Schittek. 2021. Breaking the Linguistic Barriers to Access the Internet. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), 6-Rond-Point Schuman, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium. Retrieved 05 March 2021 .
- African Regional At-Large Organization (AFRALO). 2020. Status, Impact and Recommendations for Universal Acceptance (UA) in Africa. Joint AFRALO-AfriCANN Statement for ICANN69 (Virtual). See statement in English and French. Retrieved 05 March 2021.
- Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG). 2020. Universal Acceptance Readiness Report FY20 – UASG029. Retrieved 05 March 2021.