PRAGUE (Reuters) - The organization that oversees Internet domain names has appointed a new chief executive, who will have to take on some of the major challenges facing the non-profit body, including controversy over expansion of its services.
Fadi Chehade will start his new job at ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in October. He is currently CEO at Vocado, a company that provides cloud-based administrative software for educational institutions.
Chehade told reporters in Prague, where ICANN holds its 44th public meeting this weekend, that he would pursue consensus-building among all the stakeholders involved in affairs affecting the internet.
“Multi-stakeholder models require patience ... but I believe this process is nearly sacred,” Chehade said.
The 50-year-old, who has also worked for IBM, is replacing Rod Beckstrom, who is leaving ICANN at the end of his three-year contract in July.
ICANN has suffered setbacks in its most ambitious internet expansion project so far that will allow companies to set up a website with almost any so-called top-level domains — the code that comes after the period in a website address. Instead of .com or .org. new ones could be, for example, .prague or .apple.
It has caused controversy because many brand owners felt they would have to take part in the expensive project or risk rivals bagging domains that could be mistaken for their own.
The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and 26 other organizations asked ICANN last year to make sure domain names such as .un could not be seized under the new system.
ICANN says it has built in safeguards against such so-called cyber squatting.
Another hiccup in the plan came in April when a software glitch exposed sensitive details of applications for the new domain names.
Chief Operating Officer Akram Attalah said on Friday he believed the address expansion project had cleared the biggest hurdles.
Chehade, born to Egyptian parents in Lebanon, where he lived until escaping the civil war there at the age of 18, has led a number of IT companies in the United States.
Reporting by Jan Lopatka. Editing by Jane Merriman