is taking steps to offer new services
that will enable Internet users globally to navigate the Web in a variety of
VeriSign’s new services will promote global usage of Internationalized
Domain Names (IDNs), which will give Internet users a choice of over 350
local languages for sites ending in .com and .net.
While the Internet was initially developed in the United States, there has
been dramatic growth in non-English-based Web sites in recent years.
VeriSign said using its “Web-based Navigation and i-Nav plug-in services,
users can type a domain name of the Web site they wish to visit, in their
local language, and continue to see the domain name in the intended
Besides VeriSign, InnerWise, Alldomains and Domain Registration Services are
among the companies working on developing IDNs. Domain Registration
Services is focusing specifically on the Chinese and markets using the
VeriSign is offering its i-Nav software for free download at idnnow.com and
it is supported by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser and Outlook e-mail
programs. The site is currently translated into Arabic, Chinese, English,
Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and Russian. By February, VeriSign expects
the site to be translated into Brazilian Portuguese, French, Danish,
Swedish, German and Spanish.
But VeriSign’s move into the IDN market is not without controversy. VeriSign
Global Registry Services, unilaterally announced that its new technology
will redirect Web users to download its free i-Nav plug-in, and then will be
able to see pages in their native language, rather than receiving an error
Last week, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
issued a statement on its Web site expressing concern that VeriSign’s
service is using technology that is contrary to Internet Domain Name System
(DNS) and requests using non-ASCII characters.
“In response to these expressions of concern, ICANN has requested the advice
of the Internet Architecture Board, which is responsible for providing
oversight of the architecture for the protocols and procedures used by the
Internet, on the changes announced by VeriSign Global Registry Services
(VGRS),” ICANN said.
ICANN said DNS was designed to support 38 English-language ASCII characters,
but IDN’s utilize the non-ASCII 96,000-character Unicode system. It is
unclear how and when ICANN will resolve its dispute with Verisign.
VeriSign had a rough year in 2003, seeing its stock price fall nearly 80
percent, or more than $6 billion in shareholder value. However, so far in
2003, investors have bid up VeriSign shares, the stock is up more than 30
percent. VeriSign bought Internet domain pioneer Network Solutions in
mid-2000 for $19.6 billion.