The Russian government, like Russian fashion, is about 20 years behind the times. (How’s that feathered hair and blue eyeshadow working out for you Svetlana?)
So I was hardly surprised at all when I read a NY Times Report that Russia is sick of the West dominating the Internet, and plans to introduce its Cyrillic alphabet for domain names. Currently, the Internet only accepts Latin-based alphabet domains, so languages with non-Latin based alphabets like Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, etc. have to convert over.
On one hand, I have to say, “that’s great… the Internet should not have language barriers…” But on the other hand, the Russian people (as well as about 75% of the rest of the world) are already accessing websites using latin based domain names and enjoying relatively unfettered access to the Web. It’s a system that works – albeit a system that favors the West who all have Latin-based languages.
Here’s the rub: The Cyrillic domains will be controlled by the Russian Government. Ewww… that could be bad.
To me, it seems that Russian Government is just looking for new ways to extort money from and/or control of companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, EBay, etc. that are ALREADY accessed by the Russian people. All these companies will now almost certainly have to shell out wads of cash, just so that they can get a .рф domain (.рф will be the extension for the Russian Federation).
Not to mention the fact that Sarah Palin’s nearest neighbor will probably want to have at least a little control over content of this new Internet space that would really only be of interest to a certain subset of the world population that conveniently lives within the borders of the Russian Federation. Yeah, they kinda have a bit of history with that whole censorship thing.
This Cyrillic-only web space could, in turn, have the effect of alienating the Russian people from accessing news sources, social networking, and whatever else the Web has in store for us.
It all sounds to me like the early version of AOL, which desperately tried to keep users within AOL-land (so as to increase its ad revenue) and away from the forbidden fruit of the “evil and unsecure Internet-at-large.”