Universal Acceptance – a technical or a cultural issue? – WS 15 2020
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Universal Acceptance (UA) is a fundamental requirement for a truly multilingual Internet. While there is a certain progress from the technical perspective, there is more need to explore how UA impacts on the users, how multilingualism works on the Internet, the difficulties for developing and deploying local content, the dichotomy between being more sensible to local culture and needing a universal communication means.
Universal Acceptance is a fundamental technical requirement for a truly multilingual and inclusive Internet. It is also the key to unlocking the potential of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs - e.g. .рф, .срб, .հայ,مصر, etc.), Email Address Internationalization (EAI - email address in local scripts) and new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs - e.g. .москва, .pizza, etc.). The number of Internet users is about 4.5 billion and it is continuously expanding. English remains the predominant language and ASCII (text in computers, telecommunications equipment, and other devices) the predominant writing system on the Internet and its infrastructure, and this puts a large number of Internet users at a disadvantage. Internet users around the world should be free to use the online and cultural identity of their choice.
Nowadays, there is a certain progress in Universal Acceptance from the technical perspective. There are technical standards on IDNs, EAI support and a number of UA-ready software are already in place. A community-based team of industry leaders, the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) supported by ICANN, has for a number of years raised awareness of UA across technical communities around the world, and continues to do so. In addition to its website that acts as a central repository for UA-related materials, it has also developed and disseminated a comprehensive suite of educational resources about UA and what organizations need to do to become UA-ready. Besides, there are some good examples of IDN and EAI implementations supported by the local governments.
Acknowledging the certain technical progress, there is still much to do to enhance the multilingual and inclusive Internet.
Together with our key participants we will explore from different perspectives how multilingualism of Internet users affects the local content, what cultural aspects are to be carefully considered and what obstacles prevent worldwide UA adoption. Are these obstacles of technical, business or national and cultural character? What can Government, Internet users, technical community and businesses do to achieve a multilingual, multicultural and interoperable Internet?
- Some texts are being used by the UASG website.
The session will have the following discussion points:
Brief introduction to Universal Acceptance
- Unsolved issues
- Success stories
- Multilingual Internet
- Local identity
Universal Acceptance Steering Group website 
Universal Acceptance Case Study: Government of Rajasthan 
IDN World Report on Internationalized Domain Names 
CENTR Paper Domain name registries and online content 
CENTR Fact sheet on IDNs 
Internet World Users By Languages 
The many languages missing from the internet 
Multilingual SEO 
Digital Language Divide 
Two worlds: Languages IRL and online 
Language Status 
- Lianna Galstyan, External Relations Manager, ISOC Armenia 
- Patrik Fältström, Technical Director and Head of Security, NetNod 
- Roberto Gaetano, Chair, EURALO Individual Users Association 
- Manal Ismail, GAC Chair 
- Maria Kolesnikova, Chief Analyst, Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ 
- Alberto Masini, Innovation Consultant, ARLeF 
- Dušan Stojičević, Gransy 
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
Organising Team (Org Team)
- Roberto Gaetano
- Marina Shentsova
- Abdalmonem Galila
- Patrik Fältström
- Maria Kolesnikova
- Nikolis Smith
- Adam Peake
Ilona Stadnik, Geneva Internet Platform
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page. Please use this page to publish:
- dates for virtual meetings or coordination calls
- short summary of calls or email exchange
Please be as open and transparent as possible in order to allow others to get involved and contact you. Use the wiki not only as the place to publish results but also to summarize the discussion process.
- Universal Acceptance (UA) is crucial to make the Internet truly for everyone.
- UA is not limited to the deployment of internationalised domain names and e-mail addresses. More importantly, people must be able to use their computers, and create and share content in local languages.
- Thus, we need to work closely with major players like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and others to speed up the technical part of the UA and software development, as well as with governments that are interested in UA to preserve cultural identity and enhance online communication with their citizens.
- As a practical step, we can concentrate on increasing the visibility of local languages and encouraging local communities to use them in the creation of content on international platforms.
- Spreading cases of the successful local content projects is useful for a greater UA.
Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/resources/universal-acceptance-technical-or-cultural-issue.
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>> Hello, everyone in the room and on the live stream here in Studio Berlin. I’m studio host together with my colleague, we are here from the German society to keep sessions up and running for you. This brings me to the code of conduct. Those of you who have already participated in other sessions might have heard and read these words already. Always present in the Zoom room, identify yourself with your name, you can change your name yourself. if you struggle we will try to assist you. When you want to ask a question or make a comment, please use the hand raise function in the directed parts of the session. Our remote moderators and moderators will unmute you and you will be given the floor. Once you are unmuted, please state your fall name and affiliation before you make your comment or state your question. Contributions can also be made in written form in the chat at the forum, we will try and follow that. If you have a question that you want to bring to the discussion, please place your chat question, something that we can identify that it goes into the discussion.
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One more important note I’m happy to announce that we are partnering with the Geneva Internet platform, for curating the EuroDIG 2020 messages. We will be reporting from the session in the last five minutes, presenting the main points to all of us. With this I would close my opening remarks already, and open the session which is 15, universal acceptance, a technical or cultural issue. Over to you, Dusan.
>> LIANNA GALSTYAN: Hello, everyone. My name is Lianna Galstyan, and I’m the focal point of the session. I’m the external relations manager on the registry. Before we start, I’d like to thank the organizers, team members, all those people who contributed in organizing the session. Over the months we have several calls exchanging opinions, we find speakers and a moderator and shaped out the session. EuroDIG is a great platform for multistakeholder and bottom‑up collaboration, where every voice matters. Here I’d like to highlight one important aspect, our host mentioned about the messages that is a important point of every EuroDIG session. We do have a Special Rapporteur, thank you for your role and for being here with us. She will be preparing the messages that we will bring out at the end of the session and agreed by everyone.
Without further ado, I’d like to give the floor to our session moderator, Dusan Stojicevic from Serbia, enthusiast and great contributor of universal acceptance to start the workshop. Over to you and good discussion to all of us.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you, Dusan Stojicevic here. I hope everybody is hearing me well and I hope everybody is okay in this crazy time. Yes, we have the workshop about universal acceptance, and my role which is known to many of you, is U.S. G Vice‑Chair but I had several roles in my life about dealing with scripts, etcetera, so yes, I’m enthusiast of this topic, and also I must highlight before I continue, I must highlight that as I checked, we have 31 participants, and I remember previous meetings we didn’t have that much participants, so yes, finally, we are getting some traction among the wider audience.
Anyway, so universal acceptance as a Vice‑Chair, the idea is like this. I will guide you through this session, but firstly, I must clarify what is that term, universal acceptance, and what is the role of UASG in that, and further on, we will deal with universal acceptance from different aspects. So, next slide, please. Universal Acceptance Steering Group is one of the groups that was formed five years ago when we noticed the problems that we have with the new kind of domain names. It means not only IDNs, internationalized domain names with different scripts, but also with the new gTLDs, with a longer than two or three characters TLDs with two or three characters in their name, so extension.
Anyway, Universal Acceptance Steering Group after five years is serving the same old vision and mission. So vision is, what you see in your screens also mission is highlighted on your screens, and it’s very simple, two sentences, nothing, you don’t need some high level degree of knowledge to understand this topics.
So I will say differently, we want to have Internet which will deal with all different scripts and all different TLDs and E‑mails addresses, and treat them equally, so we can use our own scripts or our own E‑mail addresses on different scripts.
To get there, we are not there yet, otherwise we will not have this kind of session. To get there, our mission is to mobilize the software application developers and all other players to implement what is already developed standards, and introduce the services in different scripts and in with all domain names on the market.
To deal with that, we are providing as a group at least encouragement, but mostly documentation, case studies, tools and measures to deliver that right user experience to the end user. This is the crucial thing. So far, we developed a lot of documentation, a lot of explanation for developers, for bunch of people who are dealing with IDNs and new gTLDs in a sense how to implement those new standards, little bit about the standards. Standards are right now technologically speaking very old, because the latest one was about internationalized E‑mail addresses, EAI, it’s from 2013, it’s 7 years. 7 years is a long period to have the supporting all major mail clients, etcetera, etcetera, but yet we are not there. So we are still working on that. Next slide, please. So each year, we have action plan which we come up in the middle of the year, because we are ICANN group of people, and we are obeying ICANN‑ish laws. So we are giving action plan for fiscal year, each year in June, July.
And I decided to give you a little bit of sneak peek of what we are talking about the following year, and to give you some ideas what we are doing. So as I said, we have done a lot in previous five years, and I think, this session I think will be also in that line, we are in the middle of finding ways to attract more people to implement those standards. So in next year, we will have new UA Ambassadors, those are the people who are dealing locally or regionally with software developers, governments, etcetera, etcetera. So we will have a lot more Ambassadors than we have in previous years.
We will have new local initiatives. Local initiatives are groups dealing with universal acceptance on regional or state level. So one of the groups is represented here, Maria will tell you later all about her activities. This group is formed in so‑called eastern side of the world, so Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, and all other countries that are using different scripts in that area. So also we have let’s say in China, we have local group, we have in India, those are the huge domain markets, and we are about to form, to have a new local initiative in Middle East.
Then we will have more local case studies, logically, when we have new local initiatives we will have new local case studies, more documents on that. But mostly crucial thing is to talk with major players. So basically, we can talk a lot about how to deal with governments, with some software companies, but until we don’t see the full support from Microsoft, from Apple, from Amazon, Facebook and other big players, we are not there yet. So this is one of the biggest tasks that we have in next year.
And also, one significant thing, we have some helpful services that we developed, that we are going to use more, or extend those services, and/or also they will be localized.
So this is for the next year. Next slide, please. The shape of the work is, I think I touched everything what we are doing, and this is just a call for you to join our effort, and this is open invitation for all. So we have a lot of working groups dealing with some topics like EAI, tech working group which deals with a lot of different problems which we have in this universal acceptance things. So anyway, this is open call for all of you to join our mailing list, and to join our work in order to achieve the goal that we all have which is described in the first slide.
So, anyway, I think I explained mostly what is the problem here. I can go deeper in details, but I don’t think it’s crucial. So we will now continue with our session. And I can talk a lot about technical aspects, and I can talk a lot about standards, etcetera, etcetera, but there is no better man who can explain those aspects than Patrik Faltstrom. So I would like to invite Patrik to take the floor, and to give his technical view on this topic. Thank you.
>> PATRIK FALTSTROM: Thank you very much, Dusan. I will continue where he ended, by talking about where universal acceptance fits in a larger perspective. My name is Patrik Faltstrom. I’m technical director and head of security at NetNod in Stockholm in Sweden, which deals with interconnect points, distribution of time and frequency, one of the route main servers, we do DNS for TLDs in the world and all different kind of other things. One of the things that I have done is that I’m one of the main editors of the documents that codify internationalized domain names. I’m happy to see so many friends on this call, including people in difficult time zones. You guys should be asleep anyways, I’m happy to see you here.
Next slide, please. Am I supposed to do something? There. Okay. This is one way of looking at the connection between the users at the bottom, and the various standards that we developed that you see on the top. You have the end user, the user which are all of us when we use our computers, you see us in the bottom. We do some kind of procurement which doesn’t have to be that we are paying some money but we are doing some selection of some software that we are using, some computers, some operating system, and that can be either open source or commercial software, doesn’t matter. We choose to use something.
Those in turn hopefully are using some kind of standard like the internationalized domain names and other things that the universal acceptance have developed like we talked about, and they and what universal acceptance have been doing of course is built upon various specifications done in the Internet task force in W3C consortium, in UNICAL consortium and where ever. The specifications are sort of the various agreements and the building blocks by which we build the software.
Next slide again. There, so I claim that we so far have succeeded quite well with the green things. We have updated E‑mail standards, we updated in W3C the various specifications for the Worldwide Web, we do know how unit code works, we know how printers work. We have, there are a lot of pieces there. We have the Unicode character set, we know how to encode the Unicode in UGF8 and other kind of things. We also have lots of users that are concerned like all of us 37 people at the moment on this call, that would like to use these standards, but then we have these orange things in between. The procurement, the actual and the actual software like Dusan was saying, this is the next step, universal acceptance, that is to some degree moving from the top and downwards and then we have the users which are moving from the bottom upwards.
But we are definitely not there yet. If we look at for example electronic mail, we see that in the world there are very very few dominant E‑mail software developers out there. We have Microsoft with Outlook, Apple with their E‑mail client and we have Google with gMail. I guess just by mentioning those three E‑mail clients I presume that we probably have managed to pick like 90 percent of the E‑mail clients that all of us are using. The question then of course is, if we only have three, why are they not implementing things correctly? We could of course ask that question about other things not only internationalized domain names and other kind of universal acceptance features, for example, how come outlook, how come you cannot quote E‑mail correctly in Outlook?
For some weird reason, and that is why the box procurement is there, for some weird reason, we as individuals but also companies, public sector, governments and whoever, is buying software that is not fulfilling the requirements that for example universal acceptance people have developed. To some degree, the providers of the software that we are using, they of course are developing whatever they are selling, and if the customers are not asking for these features, well, obviously you don’t have to do it. Why should they spend time and effort in implementing it. I see in the chat there that ProtonMail is great for E‑mail. I use mail mate myself. I have decided myself to do procurement which gives me a E‑mail client that at least has some features that I am asking for but that what I’m using is not perfect, either.
There are a lot of things to do but we have to remember that for example internationalized domain name, that is not universal acceptance just like Dusan said. There are so many other things which are much more important. The primary thing that I think is most important and the reason why I started work with internationalized characters is the ability to type text and create content and read content in my own native language. That is why I started. When I started and that is also how John Klensin and myself met specifically was because I was irritated that I could not type in my own, type my own name in an E‑mail message. That was my goal.
I don’t remember, John, but I see that you are on the call, it took about five years just to get that done. Then it goes downhill from there. We need to make sure that people can deal with content, the most important thing, and then of course we need to have support for all of these other things which are important, for example, in the few cases where unfortunately we have a protocol parameter like a domain name which is visible to the end users, you have interest to have also the local language and script in those parameters, to some degree that is a design fault. But that is what we have to live with. We cannot get away from that.
Other things like Dusan mentioned is now when we have agreed that we should add new TLDs, we cannot have software that cannot accept a dynamic list of TLDs. Then you have 300 other things which can be listed as universal acceptance. One of these doesn’t solve everything but for each one of us, we have what is most important for us.
Let me mention, let’s see if there is another slide, next slide, please, yeah. This is the last slide. Specifically for internationalized domain names, and internationalization in the IETF which as I mentioned is only a tiny piece on universal acceptance because I claim the most important thing is for people to be able to use their computers, create content and share content, because that is part of the ability to participate in society and live up to the human rights, in the IETF we have too few people that are interested in technical Internet work with internationalization. We are fighting in the IETF to get a active group with people that have time. I think we are only about four people. We are far too busy and we are too few.
If it is the case that you are interested in working with internationalization, please come to the IETF. I’m happy to help you with what needs to be done. There are specifications and protocols regarding everything from passwords to identifiers in protocols to calendar issues which need to be reviewed by people that understand the internationalization. Please come and participate. I’m happy to help with that. Regarding books that I think you can read, one is this writing systems of the world. It is a great book. It explains quite a lot on what the hell is going on here.
The other report that I wrote myself explains why the procurement processes will not help getting the standards together, why the gap between the users and the standards is very hard to close. I give my explanation why that is hard in the report that you see at the bottom. With that, thank you very much. Back to you, Dusan.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you, Patrik. As I said, there is no better man or maybe John Klensin is here and special regards to him also. Let us go from technical point of view and we can start to shape this in a different manner. Let me see, Roberto, are you there? Yes, you can take the floor, and you can explain this other part that was seen green in Patrik’s presentation. So user experience and user view on universal acceptance.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Yeah, thank you, Dusan. Yeah, as you said, I will have a look at things from a different point of view, from the point of view of the user, who doesn’t understand the technical issues and just has a name that its native way of being written doesn’t fit easily, that speak a language that is not widely spoken, that has a sort of a lot of other problems, and just wants to have this problem solved.
By the way, I am speaking on behalf of the EURALO individual users association, which is an association of Internet users, and that explains why I am taking this point of view.
So I would like to start from the main motto of the Internet society that says Internet is for everyone. Internet is for everyone, but does everyone have the same opportunities, and is everybody able to access the Internet in the same way.
The first thing is obviously connectivity, the coverage of the area, the cost, there was incidentally just before an interesting session on community networks that addresses exactly this connectivity in rural and remote areas and other things, that is probably outside the scope of what we are talking about here. But there are plenty of other things, other potential obstacles for the users that is maybe naive in terms of technology, and that need to be taken care of.
What am I trying to say, is that all the technology is absolutely important. It’s very important that we have all the tools that will allow then the Internet so to say to speak different languages and to read different scripts. But there are, besides what we see like an E‑mail address or a website, there are other things that have not been addressed very much, because they are not probably, for instance, they are not in the ICANN scope but are still something that is affecting the users.
I’m talking about software tools, I’m talking about social media. Now we don’t have interconnection between different social media, for instance. Maybe this will sound a little bit strange. Why would we want to have interoperability between different social media? Just the fact that in every country, maybe certain social media are more developed or used than in others, in certain countries some social media are blocked. That will make the communication from people more difficult, and I think that although there is no obvious solution, I think that this as a problem should be raised.
I remember when I was younger, the big issue was the keyboards, keyboards for different languages and different scripts and so on with different layouts and so on. So this is no longer the problem. But we have similar problems about setting up and so on.
Everything also stems from the languages, the different languages. There is one thing that I would like everybody to think about, that a language, since I’m saying this because English is considered some minimum common denominator, and what the vast majority of the people that are non‑native English speaker is not English, it’s a tiny subset of English, is the tiny subset of 1,000 words that make communication possible, but is not the language, it doesn’t have the richness of the language. I’m sure that most of us, I for sure, if I go and see a play, somehow in rich English language, I would understand half of it. Why am I saying this, is that the language is the richness of a culture, and the translation from one language to another is something that is still imperfect, unless you have professional translators and so on, and there is a lot of things that get lost in translation.
Of course, it’s not an obvious, there is no obvious solutions on this. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t in a session like this just highlight all the problems, just to make sure that we are fully aware that it’s not just a technical problem, but is a cultural, is a deeply cultural issue. The different languages means that also in tools, we have different supports of languages, still quoting the session on community networks today, there were people in the Alpine region that spreads across several countries with different languages, that have difficulties because tools are not all the languages are supported in optimal way in the tools. And that’s another thing that needs work.
Moving to other things, like search algorithms, search algorithms are not necessarily optimized for every language. So if I look at things, if I enter a couple of words, depending on how my language is set, then the result of the search can be widely different. That is something that we need to take into account.
All these at the end of the day can be summarized in something that we need to acknowledge, that the availability of local content on the Internet, the possibility of people to connect and to interact in a complete way, making full use of the Internet, still has a lot of barriers to entry, and those, once we have solved all the technical issues, even once we have achieved universal acceptance from the technical point of view, in the sense that every software in the world will accept any E‑mail address in any writing code, or any script, then we still have a long way on the path of providing an Internet that is really for everyone, in the sense that it puts everybody on the same level. Thank you.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you, Roberto. I saw in chat there is a lot of talks about certain issues like what is script, what is language. Let me just remind you, one of the languages I’m using, I’m Serbian native speaker, and I’m using two different scripts for one language, so one language can be on different scripts, and one script doesn’t represent language.
That needs to be clarified, I was reading the chat. Anyway, more on this cultural side, I’m expecting to hear from Alberto Masini, you can take the floor and you can continue.
>> ALBERTO MASINI: Thanks a lot, Dusan. My name is Alberto Masini, I’m consultant on innovation staff for the ARLeF, the agency for the region for the language. Funny thing, last night I was hearing the event of today on the social media, so LinkedIn and Facebook and what have you and I was doing that and the first thing I noticed that I was doing that in English. I am native, my native language is (indecipherable) to be more precise, it would be Amilian which is different spoke in (indecipherable) I’m consulting for a language I know a bit, I don’t speak it very well. Why don’t I do in Friulian or Amilian, why don’t I do it in English. First of all we are talking about universal acceptance, there is universal comprehension so I was twittering in English so everybody can understand. But there is another thing, if the reputation of the language, if I write it in Amilian everybody thinks that I’m talking about something that would happen at home, not an international conference. So there is a strong issue on reputation.
Actually, if we go back about 400 years, they used to have to say, they didn’t have universal acceptance issue, they didn’t have key word issue but if you think of it Isaac Newton wrote his Mathematica in 1680, 1690, I think 1687, something like that. He wrote it in Latin. He didn’t write it in English, because English was a kind of semi developed language, and it was not well accepted by the scientific and cultural community of 17th century. Is it only this reason that Isaac Newton wrote in Latin, he wanted to be understood, because if we say that English was not a fully developed language, we have to see that 100 years before that, another Englishman called William Shakespeare wrote his first play, so the two gentlemen of Verona I think it’s called.
So let’s go back, Isaac Newton wrote something in Latin, and 100 years, because English was not fully developed, and 100 years before that, William Shakespeare wrote in English, that was fully developed. So what are we missing? We are missing the reputation. We are missing that a language to be spoken it needs a reputation. And a reputation is the base of the intergenerational transmission of a language. The reason why a young guy, a young girl, a kid wants to learn a language, is not just because their parents speak that language, but because they see the language in every single place, while they go to the hospital and they see the language, they go to the street and they see language, they go on social media and they see the language. So why am I tweeting in English and not in all the languages? Probably because I don’t think that Amilian or Friulian have the proper reputation, so we have to change that.
And here we are trying to start a plan that will be a five years plan to change reputation on the language and have old and young people willing to speak well, Italian of course, English is fully accessory but Friulian as well. The plan starts from user experience. We must have operating systems and at least it is in minor languages. That means to work as it was said in the beginning of this conference, we will have to work at Microsoft and Google and Apple, because it just has to be done. Otherwise a Friulian will be always the second choice of the languages. I must turn on my computer and decide what language I want to use. So one part of the plan is to work with major companies, and at the same time, is to rely on local community for open source operating system, main distribution of Linux just to be clear. We have got to do something to have a user experience in Friulian, that is the first step we are going to take.
Translation right now is easier and less expensive thing than it used to be two years ago. With newer machine translation we can get something quite cheap, relatively cheap, and with great results. So we are working on that as well. Text to speech is another area we are concentrating.
Apart from that, we have, I was mentioning community. Well, community has to be, has the same operation to increase the number of entries on wikipedia, on YouTube and all the media, because when we see kids doing the researches, well, they still want to see something that is reliable, so they go in libraries and I’m very happy to see that. But the first research they do and the first thing they do will be on Google or wikipedia. So we must get them a chance to find something, that is a good quality, and be there to find things, which is something that now it happens mainly in dominant languages like English or Italian, if we want to call it dominant in the Internet space.
For that we are taking up doing workshops in the territory with social media manager that we teach how to do that. So it will be not just the kind of that do the basic video but something say more professional, so we need more to come to see and consume the media.
The last thing we are addressing schools, we are working on courses for children and students and teachers, because a lot of teachers don’t have the high quality of language Friulian to teach with the level that is strong enough for what is needed. The component language learning is something we are addressing, so you can still say math in Friulian and something that if we see in waves it is something already happening, but in Italy it is something that is on the low but it’s starting. I don’t know whether we have the right plan or not. But I think that we have, what we have to do is to increase the reputation of a minority language, so that will lead to use it and we have issue, we have tons of issue. But there is one very simple issue, Friuli the name of the region has a circumflex tax, so we are always asking ourself will we put it in the Unicode, will we use the Unicode name Friuli are drop it so from the U.S. if they want to name our companies and our administrations they can do that without worrying about the tax. We don’t have a answer yet. I’m glad there is already a chance to decide and for other languages that don’t use Latin, sometimes this chance is not even there.
We don’t know if we are on the right track. I think we are, and I think we will manage in a couple of years time, we will manage to see that our usage of local content in our local language will increase. So I really think that and hope that in a couple of years time, we will be here and I’ll be doing the speech partly in Friulian and at the same time we will say we are now on Facebook, we are now on Apple, now on wikipedia, and what we need is the next stage for a minority language and other minority language will come to us and say you know you have done the right thing, and we follow you on the same track. Thanks a lot for your attention.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you, Alberto. So we heard about user perspective, cultural perspective, also technical perspective. Yes, we need to ask government what they see and what is their overview of this issue, and there is no better person than Manal Ismail so I would like to invite Manal to continue.
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Hello, everyone, can you hear me, Dusan?
>> Yes, we can hear you.
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Thank you. I also tried to switch on my video, I hope it’s working. Thank you very much, Dusan, Patrik, Alberto and Roberto, my name is Manal Ismail, I work with the national authority of Egypt and chair of the governmental advisory committee of ICANN. I’m here to talk with you from a governmental point of view, so my slides fall more into the orange part of Patrik’s chart. If we can go to the next slide, please, and I’m sure you all know by now and have already heard that universal acceptance aims at making all domain names and all E‑mail addresses work seamlessly in all Internet enabled applications, devices and systems.
And by domain names here, we mean internationalized domain names but also new generic top level domain names. With the IDNs, I believe universal acceptance is one of three components critical to allowing a smooth seamless end‑to‑end multilingual experience the other two being IDNs and local content. And for new gTLDs, goes without saying it increases competition, innovation and consumer choice.
If we go to the next slide, please, and national efforts in Egypt and those are led by one of the universal acceptance to steering group Ambassadors, and we have been trying to promote awareness on universal acceptance and work on its deployment with government and academia.
We are working with the Ministry of Communication and information technology, being the technical arm of the government, to provide awareness and capacity building as well as guidance to resources, material, best practices and testing tools, in order to ultimately align with them on any governmental projects and initiatives, to make sure their systems become UA ready, and UA becomes part of their standards and purchase orders.
We are also working with the information technology industry development agency which is the ministry working with local SMEs on developing the local IT industry, and we are trying through this agency to reach out to companies, specifically software companies, to get them involved.
We are also setting pilots for proof of concepts, we already have an Arabic E‑mail server deployed at the national authority but it is not yet published, and we have been opening a channel and guided by the Indian experience, and they were very helpful.
With academia, and I have to say this has been a very rewarding experience, we have been working with students and providing them with UA technical training and training on deployment of E‑mail address internationalization. We also had a few hackathons and Dusan was helpful in that respect. We successfully worked with students who were hearing about the topic for the very first time, and now using it in their graduate projects.
So if we go to the following slide, please, and why should governments care. There are several strategic reasons for governments to care about universal acceptance. I know they have different priorities for each governments, they may be direct or indirectly affected by universal acceptance. But when we talk about increasing on‑line communication in local languages, governments should be able to communicate with and promote services to all citizens in the local language of the country, and with our daily activities moving on‑line now more than ever with the situation mandated by the COVID‑19 pandemic, it is only fair to make sure everyone is able to use the Internet in their native language.
Preserving culture and identity, and I know this has been covered very well by Roberto and Alberto, but just to mention that by preserving local languages and encouraging their use on and off the Internet equally, we protect the culture and identity of the different communities. Also governments should be able to reach and provide on‑line services to all citizens equally nationwide, irrespective of whether they master a foreign language or not.
For sure, governments should be interested in having future proof systems and applications, and there is an analogy here with ITV6, so we need to benefit from any lessons learned in that respect – IPv6.
Also, developing the local domain industry and by deploying universal acceptance, we increase competition and innovation through a fair market and an equal opportunity for all domains, nuon legacy ASCII and IDNs also increasing customer choice and growing domain name markets, and finally availing the internationalized E‑mail addresses which have been hindering the uptake of IDNs for quite some time, and we have specific experience here with Egypt’s IDN TLD.
With internationalized E‑mail addresses working, this would also drive the use of local IDNs and local E‑mail addressees as opposed to using other E‑mail addresses or Latin based or hosted off borders.
On the local content side, developing the local domain name industry and enhancing the multilingual user experience through IDNs and universal acceptance would certainly positively affect the local content industry and grow the local content available on‑line.
To bring on‑line those who are not yet connected, we need to address the real needs, which are needs that are obviously different from those who are currently connected. Hence, addressing the language barrier and availing full multilingual experience would promote meaningful access and increase Internet penetration. So UA could be viewed as a gateway to the next billion Internet users who are expected to come from the developing world, where master a foreign language is not common.
Bridging the digital divide also is one priority to governments, and this could be achieved by promoting digital literacy and catering for the needs of those who are not yet connected. Finally, I’m sure all governments are working on social inclusion and digital transformation. And again, the COVID‑19 situation already serves also as a wake up call here, that the Internet is not luxury or optional anymore, but a basic need for everyone, so we need to work together and align efforts to include everyone and make sure no one is left behind.
If we can go to the following slide, here talking about the GAC with its diverse representation, we have 178 members and 38 observers. The GAC is a good way to reach governments. We have created a working group on universal acceptance and IDNs at ICANN 66 in Montreal. The group is chaired by India, with members from nine different countries. The charter and terms of reference are being approved by the GAC, and the group is planning to have a central information resource on UA matters, and is planning for a webinar for the GAC after ICANN 68 to update the GAC on the latest developments in that respect.
The group is also working on an initial annual work plan for GAC’s adoption, and is working to align efforts with ICANN and with the Universal Acceptance Steering Group. So they have already reviewed the Universal Acceptance Steering Group case studies applicable to government interests, and they are working with the universal acceptance steering group to develop communication strategies and to educate governments about UA best practices.
Talking about challenges, on the following slide, there is the normal reluctance to change specially if everything seems to be working fine. Also, convincing the supply and demand side at the same time makes universal acceptance a bit unique. There is no appealing product to attract demand nor pressing demand to trigger supply, and the unique situation where we need to create demand and be ready with the supply at the same time. And of course, identifying different incentives for different steak holder groups, so we have to have different messages for each stakeholder group, and again, I fully agree with what Patrik mentioned regarding the somehow readiness of the academic and technical group as well as the end user group, so for the academic and technical they just need to know there is a problem, and then they get triggered to solve it. The end user, knowing that there is better experience and seamless end‑to‑end multilingual experience is quite a good incentive for them.
We need to work more with businesses and message could be the market growth and customer satisfaction, and governments with all the strategic reasons we just discussed in the previous slides, and finally as a global thing catering for the needs of the next billion and bridging the digital divide, inclusion and so many other things, including human rights of course. Ultimately, all this needs to be globally coordinated, synchronized and orchestrated.
So finally, to wrap up, if we go to the last slide, UA won’t bear its fruits without first seamless end to end deployment, otherwise we are not addressing the problem. Wide deployment, so you cannot really benefit from universal acceptance if you are the only one UA ready. The buy‑in of all stakeholders, so as we discussed now UA has technical strategic commercial and cultural dimensions, so the buy‑in of all stakeholders is crucial. And finally, of course, UA is a win/win for all stakeholders, and is essential for the continued expansion of the Internet and the growing of the on‑line population, so global coordination among all those stakeholders is fundamental.
I’ll stop here. I thank you very much, and happy to answer any questions. Thank you.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you Manal. I will just cover one question, so one question is what is GAC. Governmental advisory committee, it’s part of ICANN, just to clarify to you all what is it.
So, at the end we have Maria, who will present what she was doing in this universal acceptance area. So Maria, please take the floor.
>> MARIA KOLESNIKOVA: Yes, okay. Hello to everyone. I’m happy to be with you here, and to take part in this very unique discussion. I think that I will provide some let’s say practical examples from the regional perspective for the whole things that were mentioned today. I actually didn’t expect it, but it’s really nice, I think that everything was already discussed before.
Could you please show the next slide? I want to start from the beginning, it’s a short slide about this domain name that was one of the leading IDN in the world since last, until the last year, and this year the Chinese in domain name saw leaders, but here is history of our Russian IDN it was delegated in May 2010, and I would like to mention that there was very big support from the state for this from the minister of telecommunications, from the President, and I want to pay attention to this point, because IDN domain names especially on the national level have chance to be successful when they get very good support from the government.
Daughter Rep is one of such examples, this year we are celebrating 10th anniversary of daughter ref and we have 745,000 registered domain names in daughter ref and most of them are delegated and in use. I think that, and we all consider in this situation like a success, really good success. And can say that it’s very pop layer domain name in Russia – popular. That is why we are taking so much attention to the support of our Cyrillic on the Internet.
Next slide, please. Next slide, please, if possible. Yes. I really want to mention that we have – no, no, please return back, one slide back, please. Yes. Thank you. As I’m representing the registry, IDN registry I want to mention this connection what we are trying to discuss also, between the domain names like protocol parameters and cultural aspects. I have very good example, we provided the round table discussion on the 10th anniversary of our domain name, called Cyrillic on the Internet. I think that it was very good event, and some nice conclusions were reached during this event.
I’d like to share it with you, because I think it’s really good because this round table was like a, there were several stakeholder groups represented, like academia, like linguistic, like experts, technical experts, government experts, and business experts. So I think that this round table discussion covered lots of different sides of this problem as well.
Here are conclusions, IDNs are a part of local culture and identity on the Internet. This is how IDNs are connected with this cultural aspects, as we are trying to discuss today.
Because IDNs’ role and it is agreed with everyone, so it is to preserve language and cultural diversity on the web, and network levels. To support and improve accessibility of content for those who are sole users of the local language, so the second conclusion was made like local language helps to keep identity in the universal world. I think that today, we have very good discussion on this topic as well, because our local language helps us to keep our cultural identity in our universal Internet.
Next conclusion is that local is just a form of expression of universal, it is like it’s more philosophical conclusion, but to give an example and how to understand it better, it means that for example our local content on Russian language or any other local language it exists on the universal platforms, global digital platforms. For example, today we are discussing all these issues on, in Zoom. Zoom, it’s let’s say it’s universal and global platform, because in every country we use Zoom, while this on‑line period of our life. So we need to understand that the platform is universal, but we still are trying to use our local language there. So for communication, for typing our names, and so on and so forth, for using charts and etcetera. And of course, the main conclusion that were made, that is connected to IDN domain names, that IDNs can become a global and historical phenomenon but for that we need to create new valuable local and universal projects, which will be addressed by this IDN domain names. This is very important, and of course, such meaningful and useful on‑line projects usually supported by government, and this describes importance, important side for supporting the local languages. I’m really glad that Manal has described very detaily in many details the approach which is necessary to be considered by the governments.
Next slide, please. So also, I’d like to provide some regional overview of initiatives, that are going top‑down from governments and vice versa, up from bottom to the up, it will be the next slide, but please keep my slides here. So I think that this will illustrate very well some initiatives which are very important for keeping every language on‑line. And Alberto’s speech, I think, demonstrates what initiatives, what we need to do to keep every language on the Internet, what kind of projects we can create there on the local languages. So for example, for top‑down approach, I have several examples, like legislative initiatives on how to use local languages on the Internet. Here is an example of the Ukrainian law, and the functioning of the Ukrainian language. This law was as I understand approved last year.
One more example is that IDNs should be used for state authorities programmes, for governmental programmes, national programmes, etcetera. Here is really good and interesting example from Belarus, they provided the census campaign last year, and used IDN domain names for this. There were huge marketing support from the IDN registry for this company, really nice example.
One more example which is very popular and have huge support in Russia for example, it’s digitization of cultural and historical archive materials from state libraries and museums. For example, there are huge number of examples for this type of content from Russia, but I’d like to mention for example, they are supported by our government structures. This is aggregated portal with different kind of information, for example cultural efforts, about museums, exhibitions, old films, I don’t know, actors, and so on, lots of things are aggregated there on Russian language. Such kind of projects are very important to have those content on the local language which can be searched, for example, by search engines by end users.
Also one example is governmental programmes to train and support local specialists from cultural, educational and scientific areas on how to work on‑line, for example now we know that all our teachers had to go on‑line in emergency way. But it’s really important to prepare such experts in different aspects of cultural, educational, science, to work on‑line, how to do it better, so they can provide their expertise, not only off‑line but on‑line as well. This also provides the contents on the local language, and help to preserve it there.
Here is also an example of the different collaboration in this area, like from Armenia, they are in cooperation with the state language committee, and they provided for free of charge IDN domain names for educational institutions. It is a short connection again between the IDNs and the technical side of this issue, and the cultural side.
Next slide, please. Here is some more examples demonstrating the bottom‑up approaches which are not connected by the governments maybe, but they are financially supported and created by some local enthusiasts. For example, you can see the user generated content, something like wikipedia, from Russia some examples from Russia, it’s library of scientific materials, library of poems, and etcetera. So really good examples, and very old since 2000.
Also examples from Bulgaria, and this is a portal providing language, linguistic on‑line services. This is very good example of content to support local languages, like grammar rules, dictionaries and so on. Also examples from Russia, this is something new, digital dictations to train skills and competence of end users, how to use this digital platforms and the instrument.
And of course, it’s really nice to have new formats on local contents because new forms of content on local languages are very important to grow the Internet and to grow the cultural and language diversity there. Here is example from Ukrainian with their fairy tales project, and also the Serbian example, when they provided their registration of IDNs in 21 minority languages, launching their IDN domain names. These different examples can help us to keep this diversity language, diversity on the Internet.
So I think that’s it.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you.
>> MARIA KOLESNIKOVA: I don’t have time, right.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: We are closing.
>> MARIA KOLESNIKOVA: Okay, but can we, sorry, show only one slide, last slide, just to, I won’t comment then but this is a demonstration of our technical part of work which we are doing in the region, as Dusan mentioned in the beginning. This is how we are trying to work with technical standards implementation. We have the local initiative in our region with 7 countries, representatives from 7 countries already. We have several local projects providing for universal acceptance promotion and awareness. That’s it. (chuckles).
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you, Maria. I think we don’t have much time for the questions. But I saw some of them on the chat. But I see that we are out of time. So I will go to rapporteur to see how, what messages we can –
>> Maybe we can take one or two short questions.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Okay. Anyone with a question? Is there anyone with a question?
>> We have a lot of interesting discussions in the chat. I think that was dynamic there.
>> If you raise hands.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Carlos Alfonso, please. Speak up.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Carlos is muted.
>> Yes, please unmute me.
>> We can hear you.
>> Please unmute me. Thank you. It’s very quick. Are you hearing me? Yes? Okay. I’m Carlos, a member of the multistakeholder advisory group of the IGF. I am a co‑facilitator of best practice forum on intercessional of the IGF which deals with local content, and it’s completely related to what we are discussing here in universal acceptance issues. So it’s quickly to say that I would like to invite all the participants to get to the website, IGF website, go to the BPFs, best practice forums menu, and there you can find a mailing list where you can participate in the discussions of this BPF on local content, you will be very welcome if you join us. Thank you.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you. Next, Adeel, please unmute.
>> Adeel: Thank you. I’m a student at university of Nottingham, UK. During the discussion we have talked several times about the big players that we need to work together with and there is no way out for us, that was one thing, just in case of these players they kind of like, if they back out because they are driven by marketing interests, they don’t care about technology and cultural aspects. Where do we go from there? I don’t want to sound pessimistic but realistic opinion, that if they do not support the UA, how do we go around from there? Do we have any plans or something like that?
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: If I can take this answer shortly. Yes, we have the plans, but I don’t have the time to explain the plans. So yes, we are doing a lot of things with Microsoft, Google, and a lot of others like Facebook and big players. But there are plans and we are doing it. We hope that it will be done soon. Next, Danko.
>> The host does not allow –
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Yes, you are.
>> Thank you. As a member of technical community participating in this event, I would like to say thank you to the participants and presenters. As you said, ask what you can do for the universal acceptance, so please I would like to encourage the whole team to ask from the community, to ask for us to do whatever we can in the organisation as we work for and participate and do the work. Thank you for this work. Please go on, this is very important topic, and to do our part. Thank you.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Thank you. So we are going to rapporteur fast to see what we have from the messages.
>> Thank you, I’m from the Geneva Internet platform. I’m your rapporteur for the session. I will provide the key take‑aways, and later there will be a full report of the session.
Before I will read the messages, I want to note that all of them will be provided for the open commenting. Keep to EuroDIG about this so this is not the final text, be aware. The first message is that universal acceptance is crucial to make Internet truly for everyone, not limited to the deployment of internationalized domain names and E‑mail addresses, more important people must be able to use their computer screen and share content in local languages. We need to work closer with major players like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and others to work out the technical part of the UA and software development as well as with governments interested in UA, to preserve cultural identity and on‑line communications with their citizens.
Next slide, please. As a practical step, we can concentrate on the increase of visibility of local languages and encourage local communities to use them in the creation of content on the international platforms. Spreading cases of the successful local content projects is useful for a greater universal acceptance.
This is it. Any objections on the chat?
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: From me? No. But from others?
>> LIANNA GALSTYAN: Everyone is in agreement with this message. Thank you.
>> Perfect. It’s all consensus.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: I’m hearing none, so thank you Lianna for this. I will end the session. I hope it was interesting, and dynamic for you. Thank you all.
>> Thank you, everyone who participated. This is it from Studio Berlin, this is our last session here. Some of you will join us in a second and officially wrap up this day in the Hague that should be here in a second. This is only possible now, we do it anyway. Tell me if you have any last words. I think we have one or two minutes.
>> LIANNA GALSTYAN: If you have something to wrap up, Dusan, we can go ahead. Otherwise I want to thank everyone.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: I want to thank everyone, participants and I want to say what I said at the first place, it was over 38 or more participants, and it is the hugest universal acceptance session that I was attending in my life, joking of course, but it is a huge and I’m really happy because of that.
>> Hello, Elizabeth. You won’t believe it’s not so easy which story you take first, because that has a big technical impact. We have to coordinate here when we switch between studios. That is really the harder part. I see what I look like in the Internet. I see your participants are still there pretty much welcome, a lot of well‑known faces, hello to all of you. I hope you had a good session, universal acceptance is always a hot topic.
>> It was high level speakers we had here. I learned a lot personally.
>> Perfect. Elizabeth, Berlin is finished to stream today. Basically you managed to do all your session but we will reconvene for the wrap up at 6:00, right? We will then say good‑bye all together to everyone. I hope, I really would wish that those people are still in the session here would also be available and would have time again to look in for the wrap up because this is the moment when we let you know what kind of effort was behind it and when we would also like to thank everyone that helped shaping this virtual EuroDIG. Elizabeth, see you in a short while.
>> Good day, everyone.
>> DUSAN STOJICEVIC: Bye to you all, and thanks to everybody.