ICANN of worms

ICANN is said to have opened a can of worms by approving the 'language' top level domain .cat application. However, I do not find any such approval in the official ICANN announcements page.

The reality of this seems to be the the nation of Catalonia tries to get itself a kind of country code Top Level Domain under cover of the language code .cat.

What can I say? I live in the Faroe Islands, another stateless nation, but one that has its own ccTLD: .fo. So I find it very reasonable that Catalonia should have its own ccTLD too. Spain may be opposed to the idea, but so is Norway to the ccTLDs .bv and .sj. (The Bouvet Island is uninhabited. The unilaterally claimed Norwegian military base at Jan Mayen shares the .sj domain with the demilitarized Svalbard, which is under Norwegian control by multilateral treaty.)

I foresee a lot of creative applications for my.cat, everything.for.the.cat and everything.but.the.cat.

More interesting is the rush of political TLD applications to come. The Commanche nation will try to reclaim the .com domain. The Basque may settle for the .eus language domain, or try to reclaim the .eu domain. There is no general ISO language code for Sami, only codes for each language: sma, sme, smj and smn. Thus, the Sami clearly need the .sami TLD.

non-ASCII domain names

With the introduction of IDN and non-ASCII characters in domain names, there is a case for language based domains. Under .com, you can use the homoglyph pair c and с to mimic a famous software company: Miсrosoft.com.

ccTLDs are generally safer for IDN domains. E.g. .no specifies that only English, Norwegian and Sami characters can be used. Mixing Norwegian and Sami in one domain name is allowed, like in besųk-kįrįsjoga-biblioteahka.no. (IBM's demo page does not detect that the į and the ų are from different languages, because they are both from ISO-8859-1.) Homoglyphs betseen Norwegian and Sami is hardly any problem. But the .us domain may have a hundred or so native languages, and the .com has to deal with the entire UNICODE set.

So language based domains may reduce the danger of homoglyphic fakes by restricting their sub-domain names to one language. However, these language domains need not be top level domains. They could be sme.no, com.us, ca.es or no.no. (Many of these domain names are of course already taken.)

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