ICANN announced it will start allowing domains to be registered using non-Latin characters (English etc.) starting Nov. 16. The news was released during a meeting in Seoul on Friday, Reuters reported.
The news is important as it will see the registration of thousands if not millions of language specific domains. Previously, all domains were basically in English - not quite appropriate for a world wide web.
As the Independent noted:
"Considering it is known as the "World Wide web", the internet's reliance on the English language has long been maligned as a hangover from the web's beginnings as a communications tool for the US military."
"100,000 new characters are expected to be added, in a multitude of languages including Mandarin, Russian and Hebrew," according to the Independent.
No doubt there will be a stampede to register domains like the Oklahoma Land Rush of the the appropriatedly named "Unassigned Lands."
This move also shows a loosening of US control over ICANN and "most striking about the development is the symbolic shifting of power underpinning the web, which comes at a time that America's economic power around the world is diminishing. With Chinese web users now outnumbering their American counterparts, commentators will see this change as another step in the gradual de-Americanisation of the internet."