Internet Governing Body Introduces Major Changes

Dennis Faas's picture

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is the closest thing to a web-wide governing body, has made several key changes to the way website addresses will work. It's added Chinese character addresses, backed a dedicated adult domain, and taken a further step towards tighter Internet security.

The addition of Chinese characters follows a similar move last month, when Arabic script was included. It means for the first time the entire address can be written in the script, including the part at the end which indicates a country.

To avoid confusion, the system isn't used for '.com' addresses, but instead is being rolled out on a country-by-country basis. This week's move brings Chinese script to addresses in China, Honk Kong and Taiwan.

Triple X Domains Get Thumbs Up

ICANN also agreed to consider an application for .xxx to become a new top level domain (in the same way as .com or .biz). Though the application will still have to go through the full consideration process, this week's decision means it will be judged on its practical merits like any other application.

In 2007, ICANN rejected the application on ground of taste. Its members have now agreed with an independent review which said that shouldn't be an issue; ICANN is meant to take a neutral and objective view of the Internet.

There's still some dispute about how well the .xxx system would work. Supporters point out that it would make it very easy for parents to block access to all sites ending with .xxx. The problem is that there's no way of forcing existing these sites to move away from .com or any other addresses, for that matter. There's also a risk that the highly competitive and lucrative industry could produce extensive trademark lawsuits as companies rush to register new addresses. (Source:

.Org Sites Getting Safer

Also announced at this week's ICANN conference was that .org will be the first top level domain to adopt the Domain Name System Security Extensions system. DNSSEC aims to tackle "man-in-the-middle" attacks, which exploit the way website addresses currently work. (Source:

Whenever you visit a website address, such as, it goes through a process known as Domain Name System (DNS) resolution, which translates it into a number representing the specific computer where the site's data is physically located. Man-in-the-middle attacks work by breaching this process, which means that the visitor's browser can be re-routed to a bogus site that can then be used for spreading a virus or collecting personal and confidential data.

DNNSEC works by introducing digital signatures to the DNS register, meaning that bogus sites will find it harder to pass themselves off as the legitimate destination.

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