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Bob Parsons, Founder and CEO, Go Daddy

Bob Parsons Go Daddy puts its mouth where its money is. The Scottsdale, Ariz., domain name registrar is among the most vocal and demonstrative when it comes to DNS issues. The company has been embroiled in litigation with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and top level domain registry VeriSign over the latter's proposed tweaks to the DNS system.

The Go Daddy Group of companies, which includes Wild West Domains, Domains by Proxy, Starfield Technologies and Blue Razor Domains, says that more than 5.4 million domain names under its management make it the second largest registrar in the business.

Bob Parsons, the company's founder and CEO, sat down with internetnews.com on a recent trip to San Francisco to try and shed some light on where the DNS system is going -- and where it's going wrong.

Q: What's your beef with VeriSign?

VeriSign received the charter to be a registry. They should be a registry. They get involved with these schemes to make a buck -- like SiteFinder. They put an asterisk in the DNS system, so they get rerouted for all the typos, and call it technical innovation. Well, I don't think so, and I don't think anyone else thinks so. It's the same with the WLS system. They're going to destroy the entire backorder market, charging $24 a name to the registrar, which will get marked up to the consumer.

It's a bad deal. If the price was much better, and it didn't obsolete a whole industry, I'd probably support it. It's the typical thing you see coming from a monopoly.

Q: But from the end user's point of view, under the current system, if I really want a domain name, I'd have to place a backorder with each of the registrars. I have no way of knowing whether or not I'm next in line.

You'll find most of the names that are strongly contended never become free; they're bought and sold privately. The rest, the ones that are not contended, I can almost assure you there wouldn't be any backorders on it.

Q: But is preserving your industry a valid reason to stop the WLS?

Maybe it's not a valid reason overall, but it is a reason. VeriSign was hired to be the registry. That's what their job is. It isn't their job to set their own prices that have nothing to do with market pressures, and set the terms too. That's wrong.

Q: Are you still wrangling with ICANN over VeriSign's SiteFinder, which redirects misspelled URLs to a VeriSign page?

P: They had their subcommittee come back through, and it said SiteFinder indeed is a very bad idea, should not be done by VeriSign and is a violation of VeriSign's charter as a registry. They agreed to be a registry, not to sell advertising through the DNS system. Go Daddy independently filed a suit against VeriSign when SiteFinder was three days old. We threw down the gauntlet in Phoenix and said, "this is wrong." We took a stand. The other thing we did, right after VeriSign sued ICANN, we pledged $100,000 to ICANN to help with its legal fees.

Q: Is ICANN broken?

ICANN has never been given a chance. Look, you have the Internet and the whole domain name system. Then, you have this little corporation that gets about $9 million in funding, and they're going to oversee it? The job is too big. When they stepped up and told VeriSign to take SiteFinder down, they finally grew teeth.

They came back and said, "We want to do the job that we're here for, start supervising the registrars and, in addition, accrediting them."

Keep in mind there are over 200 registrars, and not one has ever been decredited. I can tell you, there's a number that beg to be decredited. ICANN has never done it because it never had the budget. They want a 100 percent increase in their budget. To me, $17 million to manage the Internet sounds pretty cheap.

Q: End users, domain name registrants, will end up paying that, right?

It will come from registration fees of 25 cents a name based on domain name years, and inevitably, it will be passed along to registrants. Registrar's fees would be doubling. Because of Go Daddy's position, we'd be paying the lion's share. But I see it as something that is not only a good idea, but is sorely needed.

Q: But you said ICANN doesn't have teeth.

We're working on giving them teeth. First of all, I think the Department of Commerce is ready to step up and do whatever makes sense, but everything starts at ICANN. If ICANN has just a small skeleton staff, what's going to happen?

Q: Is spam a registrar's issue or an ISP/e-mailer issue?

Everything starts with the domain name. We are probably the most proactive registrar when it comes to suppressing spam. If someone reports to us a domain that's spamming, we look into it and, if it's true, boom, that thing is redirected and done. You'd better get a new domain name. But we're the exception. If all the registrars would work together, spam probably would be a fraction of what it is.

Q: What else can registrars do to help stop spam besides quickly closing down any domains generating it?

Maintain a cross database of offenders.

Q: ISPs do that, and it hasn't been that effective.

Nothing is going to be effective unless everybody is working on it. If you have half the guys working on it, and half the guys won't, it doesn't take a spammer long to figure out where to go.

Q: The registrar business is pretty wild and woolly. Isn't it hard to get this bunch of independent people to work together?

If ICANN is strong, yes. If they're weak, forget it. You're lucky if you get two guys to cooperate.