Emoji Domains – Creativity at the cost of Security and Accessibility

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We all are familiar with the emoji explosion in last decade! The advent of social networking sites and instant messengers have made them really popular among new generation. Recently they have garnered such popularity that many are registering domain names using emoji.

Due to increasing number of emoji domains, ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) has studied the use of emoji domains and after analysis  has published a report documenting the possible threat emoji domains possess.

After completion of study, SSAC found five underlying points which accentuated the threat and security concern associated with emoji domains. First of all, emoji are proscribed by the IDNA standard. There is no regulation which governs the reproducibility of emoji, hence they are not bound to be visually distinguishable which ensues confusion and difficulty in accessibility. The end of result of how emoji will look depends on the rendering technology used which can differ from user to user.

Another point which makes emoji domains even more nebulous is that they can be easily modified and by emoji modifiers and “glue arrangement” that it leads to even greater rendering alterations and potential for vague interpretations. The last finding of advisory committee was that just because a code point is included in Unicode, it should not be used as part of domain name.

The committee also stated that since domain names are ultimately used by end users, they should be designed in such a way that they are easy to interpret and which can have easy transcription by the end user from one context to another.

After the potential drawback of emoji domains, committee gave few recommendations to mitigate it. Because the risks identified in this Advisory cannot be adequately mitigated without significant changes to Unicode or IDNA (or both), the SSAC strongly discouraged the registration of any domain name that includes emoji in any of its labels. SSAC also recommended that the ICANN Board should reject any TLD (root zone label) that includes emoji.

SSAC is just advisory committee and has no authority to regulate and enforce any policy. The final call belongs to other parties.

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Saima Musharraf
Saima Musharraf is a domain names analyst. An engineer by education, she likes to talk about the viability, potential, trends and regulations of the domain name industry and shares a positive outlook about its future. When not working, she is found cooking or stitching.

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  1. an this is just the safety and security, there cold be major roadblocks from the Intellectual Property Community – does a word trademark also mean the emoji?

    Theres 90% of emoji thats works great, at least once Windows 10 and And droid roll out, but that last 10% might be tough for gtld and new tlds.

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