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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Russia, Paraguay may clash over TLD name

Global Internet community may begin the New Year, 2008 with Russia and Paraguay spoiling for war over the choice of country code Top Level Domain name based on the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII).

TLD is a name identifying individual countries on the World Wide Web (www) such as .ng is for Nigeria, .fr for France, .uk for United Kingdom, .be for Belgium, .za for South Africa among others.

While ASCII is a computer science term consisting of a code for information exchange between computers made by different companies; a string of 7 binary digits representing each character used in most microcomputers and stand for text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices.

This development came as Russia seems to be loosing sleep over .py, which Paraguay has ever since at its TLD name.

Just as members of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) focused Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) have condemned the looming ‘Internet war’.

According to the United Kingdom-based Guardian, the growing cold war with Russia has a new frontier found on the Internet, as the Russian government has been reportedly pushing for greater control over the Russian-language part of the net which is aimed at creating a web that operates in Cyrillic, and completely independent from the wider web.

The report also added that the problem for Russia is that its TLD with the ASCII suffix .ru when translated into Cyrillic language reads as .py, which happens to be domain name of Paraguay.

It was gathered that Russia thinks this could pose security problems for its citizens who use the Internet.

Officer in charge of the Russian domain name at the international domain naming agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Mr. Kim Davies told the Guardian, “Russia has a second top level domain name of .ru in Ascii code, but is pushing for .rf in Cyrillic.”

Equally, the special adviser to the chairman, Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Wolfgang Kleinwachter, said the proposal for ‘Russian internet’ would look at how they could communicate better inside the country.

As said by him, the internationalisation of domain names would afford Russia the opportunity to do things which are now being tested in China, “where they are currently using Chinese characters for three top-level domains: .net, .com and .cn.”

The report also highlighted that the key issue now is whether Russian international domain names would use their own root servers, which decide where to route their Internet requests independent of the existing Internet root servers, which are mainly based in the United States (US).

Kleinwachter also noted that in the hardnut scenario would entail every Russian to register a domain name using the .rf top-level domain in Cyrillic.

“Then [Russia] would have their own root and it’s much easier to control the top-level domain than hundreds of thousands of secondary level domains,” he said.

Thereby positing Russians as being safe from Paraguayan phishing, that is, it would also give the Russian government more control of the net and leave Russian citizens isolated from the international community in most cases.

Mr. Davies explained that Russian Cyrillic keyboards would make it difficult for Russian users to search for domain names using the roman letters of Ascii code. Pointing out that without a bridge to coordinate it with Ascii code, a Russian-language Internet would be cut off from the global net.

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