(No.126) EURid/UNESCO World Report on IDN Deployment 2012 – opportunities and challenges associated with IDNs and online multilingualism

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Workshop Theme: 
Access and Diversity
Theme Question: 

Question 7: How do language barriers impact access to the Internet? Question 8: What opportunities and challenges are presented

Concise Description of Workshop: 

Following on from the EURid/UNESCO report "IDNs, State of Play" published in Q2 2011 and presented at the IGF 2011 workshop 69 in Nairobi, IGF 2011, the 2012 World Report on IDNs deployment has expanded the evidence base and will cover some of the IDNs experiences of Top Level Domains.  We will hear from EURid, UNESCO, the European Commission, Internet service providers as well as end users about the opportunities and challenges of measuring and promoting multilingualism on the Internet. The workshop plans to talk about IDNs from the private sector angle too as well as civil society and international organisations working in this area. Invited speakers from geographically diverse regions and stakeholder groups will bring different perspectives on the experiences of IDN deployment, the role that IDNs play in fostering local language content, and opportunities and challenges following from lessons learned to date. We will ensure the broadest coverage of the topic by speakers from different worldwide regions, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Gender balance will be guaranteed among the panelists considering that many women have leading positions in IDN deployment and multilingualism.
Agenda of the workshop
Presentations (50 minutes), moderated by Emily Taylor, Emily Taylor Consultancy Ltd (Private sector – technical community, UK)
The 2012 IDN World Report, Giovanni Seppia, External Relations Manager, EURid (Technical Community, Europe) and Emily Taylor
UNESCO, multilingualism am IDNs, Janis Karklins, UNESCO (IGO)
IDN related technical issues at the architectural level, Vint Cerf (Private Sector - WEOG)
Encouraging the creation of local content in support of IDNs, Markus Kummer, ISOC (Technical Community)
IDN implementation for top-level domains, Baher Esmat, ICANN (Private sector - Africa)
Stimulating the adoption of IDN friendly registration policies, Anne Rachel Inne, AFRINIC (Private sector - Africa)
IDN ccTLD, the experience at the KRNIC (Korea Network Information Center ), Minjung Park, KRNIC (Private sector - Asia)
Open discussion (40 minutes), moderated by Emily Taylor, Emily Taylor Consultancy Ltd (Private sector – technical community, UK)

Organiser(s) Name: 

EURid – private sector, technical community UNESCO – IGO

Previous Workshop(s): 

EURid’s Giovanni Seppia, currently Chair of the CENTR IGF Working Group, has co-organised ICANN and CENTR’s workshops at previous IGFs, including the ICANN workshop at the first IGF in Athens (2006), “Towards a multilingual global Internet” in cooperation with UNESCO and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Egypt (NTRA). UNESCO has organised the following workshops at the IGF: 96. Economic Aspects of Local Content Creation and Local Internet Infrastructure Furthermore, the collaboration between EURid and UNESCO on IDNs 2011 was presented in workshop 69 at the 2011 IGF, organised by Dot-Nxt, Inc. 2006, “Towards a Multilingual Internet” http://info.intgovforum.org/wksp57.php Workshop 69, Nairobi 2011: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/chronocontact/?chronoformname=W... Workshop 96, Nairobi 2011: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/new... http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/flagship-proj...

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Giovanni Seppia, External Relations Manager, EURid (Technical Community, Europe), CONFIRMED
Markus Kummer, ISOC (Technical Community), CONFIRMED
Emily Taylor, Emily Taylor Consultancy Ltd (Private sector – technical community, UK), CONFIRMED
Baher Esmat, ICANN (Private sector - Africa), CONFIRMED
Anne Rachel Inne (Private sector - Africa), CONFIRMED
Vint Cerf (Private Sector - US), CONFIRMED
Minjung Park (Private sector - Asia) - CONFIRMED

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Irmgarda Kasinskaite, UNESCO
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised
Reported by: 
Emily Taylor - Giovanni Seppia
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

The workshop reviewed the EURid UNESCO World Report on IDN Deployment 2012, which provides an evidence based analysis of deployment experiences for Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs).  With a data sample of up to 90% of the world’s registered domains, there are now 3.5 million IDN registrations.  There is a striking correlation between local language, and the scripts deployed.  Case studies show the diverse experiences of countries and territories which have deployed IDNs.  The World Report offers an IDN Readiness Matrix comprising factors relating to the country, infrastructure and language on one axis, and specific factors relating to the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) on the other.
Vint Cerf of Google described the technical challenges associated with creating the IDN standards, and the overriding need for universal resolution of domain names, which demands theconsistent and reversible rendering between domain names in non-Latin scripts (Unicode) and the underlying ASCII encoding (punycode).  Cerf remarked that uptake of IDNs was not as high as anticipated.  A risk of IDNs being tried and then abandoned would be the potential loss of local language content associated with those IDN domain names.
Janis Karklins of UNESCO described the development of ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track policy.  The policy development was done rapidly, the technical standards are now there. It was like building a house and having the materials for the roof, but the roof is not yet in place.  UNESCO intends to use the World Report to identify actions for Member States to support IDNs and enhance online multilingualism.  UNESCO intends to write to the Chair of IETF, and CEO of Facebook and Twitter to apply “gentle and friendly pressure” for those organisations fully to support IDNs.
Minjung Park of KISA described the deployment experiences of IDNs in the Republic of Korea.  Over 200,000 domains were registered under .한국.  Usage was low (only 30%), and on first renewal the number dropped to 100,000.  Key factors for success are usability, awareness, and high volume of registrations.  Usability is poor, particularly in smartphones (eg Android) and browsers.  KISA is working with application developers, mobile manufacturers on usability, and with public sector organisations to encourage them to use the .한국 for their main sites. Without prominent websites, user awareness of IDNs will remain low. Without high volumes, there will be little incentive for application developers to support IDNs. 
Anne Rachel Inne of AfriNIC described the challenges faced by Africa with regard to multilingualism.  With over 1,500 languages, Africa is linguistically diverse, but challenges include low levels of literacy, and that many languages are not written or encoded.  Inne identified a skills gap within African ccTLDs, which can lack the skills and knowledge of how to deploy IDNs.
Baher Esmat of ICANN described the work being done to support IDNs within the ICANN community.  From a number of studies, poor usability of IDNs has been identified as the most important challenge.  Other initiatives within ICANN include expert studies on appropriate handling of character variants within IDNs, language tables and standard policies for them, and promoting universal acceptance of IDNs in applications such as Facebook.
Markus Kummer of the Internet Society (ISOC) remarked that the introduction of IDNs is a great step forward for multilingualism, and ISOC welcomes every step that enhances diversity. A study by ISOC, UNESCO and OECD highlights the correlation between local language content and local infrastructure creating a virtuous circle.  While the cause and effect is not clear, initiatives are needed at all levels.  ISOC would have hoped for more IDN applications in ICANN’s new gTLD process.
Speakers from the floor highlighted that the transcription process itself introduces user confusion.  For example, there are numerous spellings of Al Jazeera (eg Al Jazira, Al Jazera) but only one spelling in Arabic. 
From Verisign, Pat Kane described the findings of their marketing studies, which showed a difference between market demand and user preference.  Users express a high preference for IDNs, but low trust, because they are not used to seeing them.  He said that the industry has not invested in universal acceptance, and suggested that ICANN could assist in this, for example by funding the development of suitable plug ins.

Conclusions and further comments: 

IDN deployment marks a step forward in enhancing online multilingualism.  UNESCO and EURid intend the World Report on IDNs to be a yearly study to track progress, and highlight success and challenges.
Usability and universal acceptance of IDNs remain key obstacles preventing greater uptake, and also impair user awareness of IDNs.  UNESCO will use the World Report as a basis for advocacy with Member States and also to apply friendly pressure on relevant organisations, such as Facebook and Twitter.

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