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universal acceptance (UA)

Universal acceptance (UA) is a best practice that ensures all domain names and email addresses work with all applications, devices and systems. Currently, all Internet domains are not treated equally because many organizations have not updated their systems to keep pace with the evolving domain name system (DNS). UA is key to achieving a truly inclusive and multilingual Internet.

Internet software and service providers, coders, developers and IT leaders are responsible for driving or making the technical infrastructure changes necessary to update their systems to accept all domain names and email addresses. Often, working to become UA-ready does not need to be a separate or lengthy project; this solution can be integrated into normal, ongoing maintenance that organizations undertake to ensure their systems are current.

The problem addressed by universal acceptance

Since its inception, the DNS has expanded beyond legacy .COM, .ORG and .EDU generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) to include more than 1,500 new gTLDs, with varying character lengths (e.g., .PHOTOGRAPHY, .PARIS) and in different scripts (e.g., .संगठन or ".organization" in the Devanagari script, .онлайн or ".online" in the Cyrillic script, .شبكة or ".network" in the Arabic script).

While these domains let individuals and organizations create a unique online identity in their preferred languages, not all online software applications and websites can accept these identities because many are using outdated domain name and email validation rules. This creates problems for individuals and loss of interaction and economic opportunities for organizations as their chosen domain names and email addresses using the newer gTLDs are wrongfully considered invalid and rejected.

Uses of universal acceptance

Universal Acceptance impacts and benefits all Internet users around the world. It is the procedure that is perceived as being the most effective for ensuring all domain names and email addresses work with all applications, devices and systems.

Achieving UA has cultural, social and economic implications by enabling end users to experience the Internet fully in the online identity they’ve chosen in their preferred language. UA anticipates future Internet systems and enables accessibility for the next wave of Internet users worldwide.

Using new gTLDs, companies, governments and any online organization can express unique brands, as well as national and cultural identities to reach their full potential customer, population and user bases. For example, the Government of the State of Rajasthan enabled its 69 million residents to realize the full benefits of the Internet by providing all of its citizens with a free email address in either Hindi or English. In other cases, people are choosing domain names that better reflect their identities -- lawyers may choose a name in .lawyer., or pharmacies in .pharmacy, etc.

To excel in the long run, all organizations must ensure their systems work with the common infrastructure of the Internet -- the Domain Name System -- and support all chosen identities and preferred languages online.

Importance of universal acceptance

UA is the key to making the Internet accessible and inclusive for billions of users, most of whom may speak different languages and write in different scripts. It also gives all Internet users the freedom to choose online identities beyond the character limits of traditional domain names. Furthermore, it helps organizations better reach and serve their audiences and increases revenue potential for businesses.

Without UA, Internet users who want to use an email address that uses a new gTLD, in particular with a domain name that is longer than three characters (e.g., .photography) or in different languages and scripts (e.g., .рф for “Russia Federation” in the Cyrillic script), will not be able to successfully use all websites and Internet-enabled applications.

This issue can happen for anything -- from online retail sites to travel to banking to social media communities and everything in between -- causing frustration for individuals and missed opportunities for organizations. A study by the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) found that for companies who do business online, lack of UA has the potential to prevent them from realizing a cumulative $9.8 billion business opportunity, which is a conservative estimate of the total market revenue potential per year.

The Universal Acceptance Steering Group is a consortium supported by ICANN that is made up of individual experts and more than 170 organizations from across the globe, including Apple, GoDaddy, Google, Microsoft and Verisign. The UASG is leading the promotion of UA by encouraging all organizations, businesses and governments to request that their suppliers and developers implement or develop UA-ready solutions and systems. The group also helps developers construct UA-ready systems by providing various readiness guides and documentation, as well as ensuring common standards, tools and technology are UA-ready.

This was last updated in August 2019

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