The Wall Street Journal had a sit down with Akram Atallah, former CEO and current COO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They’re the folks who handle the global administration of domains. Generally speaking, you could say they’re the entity that makes sure each unique Web property has its own online address.The interview focused primarily on the opening of the generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) system, which will incorporate a slew of new top level domain options (i.e., .secure, .shopping, etc.) on the World Wide Web. While Atallah played his cards close to his chest, there are a few points worth noting.
When asked about the 1,930 gTLD applications filed this summer, in addition to the amount of objections and comments submitted, Atallah stuck to his talking points and was quick to point out that no objections have been filed to date. He went on to explain the difference between objections and comments; the former being a fee process that could result in the halting of an application, the later costs nothing and does not interfere with the application process. Mr. Atallah was also sure to remind that the commenting period has been extended until September 26, 2012.
ICANN’s Digital archery competition was also a topic of conversation. The COO explained that they initiated the program as a way to help determine the order of gTLD application processing, since there wasn’t a clear, fair way to establish who gets their domain implemented first, second, third, et cetera. Atallah went on to say that the program didn’t work, for the simple fact that participants hated it. As such, ICANN scraped the plan.
The interviewer touched on the controversies surrounding the registration of potential new genric Top Level Domains like .gay. Many religious groups – and free speech watchdogs alike – have been submitting dueling comments to express their opposing views as to whether or not certain gTLDs should be allowed. Sleathly, Mr. Atallah pointed out that ICANN does not have a directive to deal with such disputes, that’s the purpose of the partnerships with International Chamber of Commerce, WIPO and International Center for Dispute Resolution, Atallah explained. He went on to reaffirm that ICANN, for all intent and purpose, is simply an administrative body that carries out the regulations that the community decides on.
In closing, Atlallah was asked about ICANN’s plans to transfer functions to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). He answered the question by first pointing out how well the ICANN system currently works, evidenced by how quickly and seamlessly the Web has grown in the past two decades. He then went on to indicate that ICANN was not invited to the annual ITU convention in Dubai this year, and that his team had yet to see any formal proposals. Atallah did say, however, that his organization is willing to consider ideas.
The new CEO is of ICANN is Fadi Chehade, who will most likely be overseeing the bulk of the gTLD process.
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