The Kremlin has long been irritated by the way the United States dominates the Internet, all the way down to the ban on using Cyrillic for Web addresses — even kremlin.ru has to be demeaningly rendered in English. The Russian government, as a result, is taking the lead in a landmark shift occurring around the world to allow domain names in languages with non-Latin alphabets.It's an interesting discussion, and one might wonder if similar issues are on the horizon for South Korea. Certainly the ROK government is interested in curbing some forms of behavior online, particularly by stripping people of their anonymity, at least when registering for sites.
Russians themselves, though, do not seem at all eager to follow.
Cut off for decades under Communism, Russians revel in the Internet’s ability to connect them to the world, and they prize the freedom of the Web even as the government has tightened control over major television channels.
But now, computer users are worried that Cyrillic domains will give rise to a hermetic Russian Web, a sort of cyberghetto, and that the push for Cyrillic amounts to a plot by the security services to restrict access to the Internet. Russian companies are also resisting Cyrillic Web addresses, complaining about costs and threats to online security.
“This is one more step toward isolation,” said Aleksei Larin, 31, a construction engineer in Tula, 115 miles south of Moscow. “And since this is a Kremlin project, it is possible that it will lead to the introduction of censorship, which is something that certain officials have long sought.”
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The politics of Internet domains
We've all heard the news that non-Roman characters will soon be used in Internet addresses. It seems that the Russians were major players behind that bid. Says the New York Times: