IDN Variant Labels

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IDN variant labels are Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) labels that certain script communities have been identified as technically distinct, but visually indistinguishable or linguistically interchangeable. IDNs are domain names that enable the use of scripts encoded by the Unicode standard, instead of ASCII and were introduced by ICANN to promote and develop a multilingual Internet.

Types of Variant Labels

There are two types of variant labels: within-script and cross-script.

Within-script

There are various reasons that particular script communities consider certain strings as variant labels.

  • In Chinese, the traditional and simplified characters share meaning, but contain slight variations in the characters.
    • Example, the word for China: 中國 (traditional) and .中国 (simplified)

Cross-script

Variant labels occur across scripts when different scripts contain visually indistinguishable characters

  • Latin and Cyrillic scripts contain several different characters that are nearly identical.
    • Example: epic (Latin) and еріс (Cyrillic)

Variants in IDN ccTLDs

On 22 March 2010, ICANN released its “Proposed Implementation Plan for Synchronised IDN ccTLDs.” The idea for “synchronised IDN ccTLDs” would allow for labels that are “considered equivalent” to be delegated in cases where the multiple labels would solve significant problems for Internet users, and the operation of the multiple labels would be expected to be operate in the same way (i.e. resolve with the same data). A public comment period was held to seek feedback on the idea, with this work ongoing.

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