ICAAN has announced that it will allow internet addresses featuring non-Latin characters.

Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), which were first approved by ICAAN in June last year but have been subject to testing, mean that countries can apply for a URL that features character from languages including Arabic, Japanese and Greek in the web addresses ending. Until now, only the domain name could feature non-Latin script characters.

IDNs will also mean the internet's Domain Name System (DNS), which translates domain names into IP addresses, will have to be altered to recognise non-Latin script characters.

According to ICAAN, languages featuring non-Latin script characters are spoken by over half of the web's 1.6bn users. The internet body also described the announcement as the biggest change to the way the internet works in 40 years.

Applications for IDNs will be accepted from November 16, and they are expected to go live next year.

"This change is very much necessary for not only half the world's internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread," said Icann president and CEO Rod Beckstrom.

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See also: Multilingual internet essential for next 1bn users