I was in Beijing a couple of days ago. A company told me it has 530 applications ready for the next round [of new gTLD registration].
So, there is an appetite because people want their brands to be put on the Internet. It’s our job to offer competition, to offer choice. Competition is good because it makes us move to do things.
TT: From a business perspective, what makes companies apply for a new gTLD if they have already established Web sites that can function to attract traffic? For example, why are the domain names “.hotel,” “.shop” and “.web” so popular or valuable from companies’ points of view?
Chehade: It gives people an alternative way to find their way on the Internet other than search. It’s a kind of innovation because we give people multiple ways to use the Internet with different mechanisms. People are no longer constrained to finding things only through Google’s or Yahoo’s search engines.
I met with the president of a country. He said he would give each citizen, on his or her day of birth, a Web address that goes with a name followed by a dot and the country name, so he would be able to then interact with that citizen using special communication channels based on the interests of the citizen.
So, people find new ways to govern politically. People find new ways to sell products. Everything will sort itself out through the DNS [domain name system]. The DNS is very powerful. Let’s not forget that’s what makes the Internet the Internet. What makes it one because it has a common address system. If we lose that, search engines will not work.
TT: Given that domain names can be obtained or valued in dollar terms, how high can the bid price be for a new gTLD that is sought by multiple parties?
Chehade: We haven’t done any auctions yet. The first auction is going to happen soon.
In the past, when multiple parties were arguing for the same unregistered domain name, we pushed them to resolve it in their own ways. Some have resolved the issue, but privately. So, I don’t know how much they paid because they paid each other.
TT: People often point out the side effects of issuing domain names, such as cybersquatting, phishing or trademark conflict. What is ICANN’s solution or mechanism to the common worries, if any?
Chehade: Clearly, as the domain name system grows and because it’s transnational, people use the Internet to do bad things at the expense of other people’s interests.
Recently, we got a call from an attorney-general who told us that there was a growing number of Web sites in his country for child pornography. We notified the domain-name registrar. They replied that the company owning the domain name is in another country, so we called it and figured out the situation covers multiple countries. We therefore called Interpol [International Criminal Police Organization]. Anyway, we cannot solve the problem, but we coordinate. We found the perpetrator and shut down their system.
The lesson is that we — ICANN — very often need to participate with governments, law enforcement agencies and even the private sector to address problems. This is why the Internet cannot be governed from one top-down government.
TT: Is ICANN planning a second round of its new gTLD program?
Chehade:/Yes, there will be a second round. There’s no question about that. As to when and how, that depends on the community. If the community says “Fadi, let’s open it right now,” then we will do it.