With more than 1500 top-level internet domains: is your system Universal Acceptance-ready?


"You might be surprised to learn how a routine 'bug fix' can help generate significant revenue for your organisation", explains Don Hollander, Secretary General of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (a community initiative supported by ICANN). At the same time, it is critical to check whether your system can handle the 1500+ top-level domains now available, he highlights.


In an article for INTUG, he describes the development of new gTLDs and Internationalised Domain Names, the implications for CIOs, and what to do next to ensure ‘universal acceptance’:


Universal Acceptance


“Since 2010 the Domain Name System (DNS) has expanded dramatically: Internet users have started to see new domain name endings, such as .club, .sexy or .paris popping up in their daily Internet flow. Even more exotic endings, such as .グーグル (google); .我爱你 (Iloveyou) .商标 (trademark) .购物 (shopping), .닷넷 (net) are now also part of the DNS, although more common in parts of the world where non-latin scripts are used.


When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided to open up for these new endings, it was not only to fuel competition, choice and innovation, but also to address the 67% of the world’s population, which is not using a Latin script based language. This enables a truly multi-lingual Internet, that can appeal directly and genuinely to people the world over. There are now more than 1500 Top Level Domains (TLDs), many of which are longer than the traditional two- and three-character (e.g. .com, .edu, .be, and .org) or are in non-ASCII, Latin-based scripts – such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Devanagari and Thai.


The expansion allows people to claim a domain name that best reflects their sense of identity. While this expansion is critical in bringing the next billion people online and growing the global Internet economy, the incorporation of these new domains across the global Internet is not an entirely automatic process. CIOs, web administrators, application developers and others have an important role to play in making sure their applications are compatible with the evolved Internet infrastructure. That’s why we’re reaching out to make sure you know about this change.


The issue at hand

Many organizations and businesses have not updated their systems to accommodate the new domains or, in other words, become Universal Acceptance (UA)-ready. They may have data validation routines embedded in their code that are out of date.  Or they may still be operating in an ASCII only world.  


As a result, many applications and Internet-connected devices and systems are unable to accept, validate, store, process or display all domain names. This causes problems for organizations and headaches for users because if the applications do not recognize or appropriately process the new domain names or email addresses that use these extensions, it will result in lost customers and a poor user experience.


Resources available to assist you

To address these issues and provide support, stakeholders and industry leaders including Apple, GoDaddy, Google, ICANN, Microsoft and Verisign, created the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG). The UASG exists to help organizations ensure their systems are UA-ready and able to accept all domain names and email addresses in any valid script.


There’s plenty of material at - including a one-page Fact Sheet, some Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) and a CIO’s Blueprint to getting UA Ready (where we recommend putting UA issues into your technology roadmap and systems architecture documents).


We encourage you to visit our website and view these useful materials, and to get in touch and involved with the UASG (you can join the mailing list at so we can work together to fully incorporate these new domains for the benefit of the next generation of Internet users.”


* About the author:  Don Hollander is a New Zealand-based former CIO for very large domestic and international corporations. He was also the Chair of TUANZ, an INTUG member.

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