Google, in an effort to protect their interests in their new Google+ Plus social network, has recently acquired the International Domain Name (IDN) +.com, also known as xn--dra.com. The problem here is that xn--dra.com (+.com) is an illegal domain name–the domain name violates IDNA2008, as published by the IETF.
The use of the + character in the .com TLD is not allowed, and violates IDNA2008. Under current Verisign .com rules, it appears that the +.com domain name cannot be renewed, and according to Mozilla, IDNs are not allowed on the .com TLD.
I realize that Google would want to protect their brand and protect their new Google+ Plus social network by purchasing the +.com domain name. But from what I can tell, this was a mistake–especially because the +.com is not allowed in the .com TLD.
It doesn’t look to me like Google “did their homework” when they purchased that domain name.
What has been disallowed in IDNA2008 (IDN in application, a standard for handling IDNs in apps) is most symbol domains. IDNA2003 (the previous version of IDNA, still running in most applications as of right now, including browsers) allowed symbols.
In IDNA2003 it worked fine, in UTS46 (a transition standard between IDNA2003 and IDNA2008) it still worked fine, but in IDNA2008, it won’t resolve. At this point, when +.com does come up for renewal, we do not know whether or not the domain will be allowed by Verisign.
I have obtained a copy of the email from Verisign to Registrars regarding the deletion of certain domain names that are not allowed under IDNA2008. Below is the email:
As you may know, the IETF/IESG has adopted RFC 5891, which applies to Internationalized Domain Names in Application (“IDNA”). Compliance with this new RFC is necessary to ensure the security and stability of registry operations. RFC 5891 affects allowable second level strings in IDN domain names. As such, and in compliance with RFC 5891, Verisign implemented filters to block registration of disallowed strings, and updated our Software Development Kit in early Q1 2011. In addition, Verisign will insure compliance with RFC 5891 by deleting existing domain names and child hosts from the .com and .net databases.
You are hereby given 120 calendar days notice that Verisign will delete the attached registered names from the .com and/or .net databases. The attached names will be deleted on the 121st calendar day after the date of this notice, as measured by United States Eastern Time.
As a courtesy, Verisign will issue a credit to your account with Verisign for any deleted domain names pursuant to this notice, which will be calculated as follows: for each deleted domain name, Verisign will determine the remaining registration period as of the date of this notice and round it up to the nearest year.
Pursuant to Section 2.11 of the .com and .net Registry-Registrar Agreements, registrars are required to comply with (and include in their registrant agreements) an obligation for the registrant to comply with, operational standards, policies, procedures and practices of the registry as established from time to time. As such, you are directed to provide immediate notice (and in no event later than ten (10) calendar days after the date of the instant notice) of these actions to the affected registrants.
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At dinner with friends the other night, one asked why he had never seen emicons used in domain names considering their popularity in messaging. Think about it… Sacred Heart Hospital could use a heart symbol, Seattle Mariners could use a sad-face, etc. After losing them in explanation of ASCII-Punycode translation and IDN’s, I decided the quick way out of the conversation was that they could not be used very easily by most users and left it at that. It sparked my curiosity, though. What “symbols” were registered domain names and set out to find out.
What is an IDN Domain Name?
An Internationalized Domain Name is an Internet Domain Name or web address that is represented by local language characters. Most domain names are written using the 26 letter Latin/English alphabets and numbers – this coding is called ASCII. However, IDN allows for the use of non-ASCII characters in domain names. For example, here is the IDN for Starbucks Korea: http://xn--oy2b35ckwhba574atvuzkc.com/. IDNs enable domain names in non-ASCII characters, helping to improve the functionality and accessibility of the Internet. IDNs empower companies to maintain a single brand identity in many scripts and more Web users can navigate the Internet in their preferred script.
What Happens When an IDN Domain Name is Registered?
Most domain name registrars have a special page for International Domain Name (IDN) registration.
When an IDN is registered, the foreign characters are encoded in Punycode using a number of algorithms. Punycode is an ASCII version for the IDN, allowing it to resolve with the current Internet system. An example of Punycode domains can be identified by the “xn—” beginning (see section below with the symbol IDNs we listed).
One important thing to note is that you have to choose the language of the domain name and you cannot mix languages/scripts within a domain name.
Mixing scripts in a single domain is not allowed due to security problems where the letters in one script look very much like the letters form another. For example, if someone is able to create exampl℮.com (that final “℮” is the estimated symbol, not “e”) they could convince people to visit their site rather than example.com, which can lead to a number of issues including brand and trade mark issues. For more detail on the security implications, see Unicode Security Mechanisms: http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr39.
What are Symbol IDN Domain Names?
These are real domains that someone could use for a website, and they’d be very cool to feature on business cards and collateral (though you’d have to instruct people how to get to the domains!)
We looked at the IDNS for COM/NET/ORG/INFO/BIZ/US and found a list of 10,386 domains which are a single ‘character’. Here is a sampling of some of the most fun symbol IDNs we came across:
With this announcement, a total of 27 countries/territories requests have successfully passed through the String Evaluation. Of these, 17 countries/territories (represented by 27 IDN ccTLDs) are delegated in the DNS root zone; with the remainder either readying to apply, or actively applying for, delegation of the string.
ICANN is looking forward to enabling the availability of non-Latin country-code domains for countries that qualify. ICANN will continue to accept applications for new requests in the Fast Track process, as well as processing requests through the String Delegation function. Staff support is available to help all countries and territories interested in participating in the Fast Track Process. Please email email@example.com for any inquiries for participation.
which illustrates both their capabilities as a brand to manage their local presence, as well as a sophistication in leveraging the new promise that IDN holds.
For a person in Russia who does not speak English or work with an English style keyboard, someone is now able to visit the website using their natural language and no special mode conversion keystrokes while typing.
As reported earlier the Cyrillic .РФ IDN ccTLD launch had reached a stunning number of 500,000 registrations in the first week. Considering the numbers, it was obvious that speculators were playing the TLD, but apparently six registrars are involved in registering many of the names for resale & auction and are now involved in a legal dispute as reported by TheMoscowNews. Many of the registered names have been frozen by the registry.
The accused registrar, RU-Center said there are no plans to stop sales, with spokesman Andrei Vorobyov saying: “We do not believe we have violated the law or the rules of the co-ordinating centre.”At the end of last week the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) launched legal action against six registrars claiming they had broken competition laws.
Apparently the RU-Center itself bought 38% of the names registered and acquired another 48% of the registered domains through partner companies – a total of 86%.
Jothan has been in the domain name industry since 1994, and has helped launch numerous registries, registrars, TLD consultancies and domain conferences, and is currently a consultant in the New Top Level Domain name field, with deep experience and contacts in the domain industry and ICANN arena.