ICANN's new CEO pledges to keep the Internet intact and open

Fadi Chehadé is taking the soft approach to appease countries such as China

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

"On the streets of Nairobi you can buy a phone with full Internet access for $50. That is changing the game in Africa," he said.

Asia is another part of the world that ICANN has to work more with going forward. So far its participation in ICANN has been minimal. But rapid growth of Internet users now makes Asia a critical part of the organization's globalization. Part of that process for ICANN involves distributing its headquarters around the world. Every department will have core members in Singapore, Istanbul and Los Angeles, according to Chehadé.

The choice of Istanbul may surprise some people, but Chehadé is convinced it's a good place to be. The city has a growing infrastructure and a good airport. It is located close to Europe, the Middle East and Africa and has a young population with technical and linguistics skills, he said.

While the globalization effort is about protecting the Internet as it currently functions, ICANN is now also in the home stretch of its effort to increase the number of gTLDs, which will add more suffixes to the end of domain names -- one of the most talked-about and contentious examples is amazon.book.

In June last year, the organization announced that over 1,900 applications for gTLDs had been received. Last week another milestone was reached as the objections period ended after an extension was granted at the request of many people in the industry, according to Chehadé.

Publishing industry groups and Barnes & Noble have voiced their discontent with applications from Amazon for domain names such as .book. Allowing a single private company to secure exclusive use of that string would defeat the purposes for which new gTLDs are being authorized and is, therefore, not in the public interest, according to the Association of American Publishers.

"I hope they combined their public campaign by also following the process," Chehadé said.

The first approved gTLDs will be announced in the next couple of weeks. ICANN started accepting applications in December last year and Amazon's .book application has prioritization number 890. On top of the list is .catholic in Chinese, followed by Amazon's application for .store in Japanese and .net in Arabic.

Later this month ICANN also will open the first global trademark clearinghouse ever built, which will allow trademark holders to protect their rights during the DNS expansion. The first new gTLDs will make their appearance in Web addresses in the middle of the year, according to Chehadé.

"We are going to deliver this program. I want the world to be confident that we are not going to jeopardize the stability and the security of the Internet, but at the same time we are not going to slow down the innovation that will come with the expansion of the DNS," Chehadé said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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