New TLDs

The previous blog post talked about the IANA discussions at the ICANN meeting. But of course that was not the only topic that we talked about. The biggest project in the last couple of years at ICANN has been the introduction of new TLDs. Those are new finally coming online, and include both new ASCII-based names as well as many internationalized domain names. The latter are, of course, very important for the worldwide users of the Internet.

Having talked to some of the people about their experiences in bringing such new TLDs to use, we realised that there are some technical barriers in using them in some applications. And we wanted to highlight one of those barriers in this post, in the hope that additional implementors notice these issues and make sure that the new TLDs work in all current systems.

The barrier we want to highlight is that some applications expect only the set of TLDs that were in use before this recent expansion, and do not accept (or do not properly handle) the new TLDs in URIs, email addresses, and other places that domain names appear. This is a problem that touches different types of applications and web services.

For instance, many browsers employ mechanisms to recognize proper domain names, and use internal logic to recognize valid TLDs. The results of such recognition processes is used for things such as determining whether a string typed in the URL bar should be fed to the domain name system or to a search engine. In some cases, today’s browsers are unaware of the full set of possible TLDs, and may refuse to do a domain name query, instead assuming that the user entered a search.

Of course, the relevant developers have been notified of known issues, and fixes are on the way, but there may be issues that we have not run into yet. For further information, see also ICANN’s Universal Acceptance Project.

As time goes by, many more of these domains come online. Any discovered problems will be detected and corrected. But sooner the better. With this in mind, check your code today!

Jari Arkko, IETF Chair and Barry Leiba, IETF Applications Area Director