ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has promised to find a cure for herpes by the end of the year.
Delivering an impromptu keynote speech at the National STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta today, Chehade also apologized for the continuing existence of the pernicious viral infection, which he blamed on predecessor Rod Beckstrom.
“I came here to listen,” he told an audience of confused gynecologists. “And I’ve heard what you have said. Herpes simplex is a problem, I know this now. I’m on your side.”
“I therefore commit ICANN to curing herpes by the end of the year.”
“But we can’t do this alone,” he continued. “I therefore call on all stakeholders to work together on this important initiative.”
He added that the ICANN board of directors reserves the right to create its own cure and implement a mandatory vaccination program, should the community fail to come to agreement.
Chehade’s speech came at the tail end of a tiring outreach tour that has seen him address community members from all corners of the globe.
But reaction from the assembled physicians, epidemiologists and obstetricians was enthusiastic.
“He said everything I wanted to hear,” one beaming attendee told DI after Chehade’s 20-minute standing ovation died down. “Who knew Eugene Levy knew so much about herpesviridae?”
“I’ve no idea who that guy is,” said another delegate. “He just kinda wandered on stage and started talking. But I like him a lot.”
Herpes is an aggressive sexually transmitted viral infection, symptomized primarily by unsightly, weeping sores on the lips and genitals.
Some ICANN community members have already questioned whether finding a cure is within ICANN’s narrow technical mandate.
“This is mission-creep, pure and simple,” academic or something Milton Mueller blogged. “The cure for herpes, along with All Other Things, should be subject to free market forces.”
Mueller pointed to Chehade’s surprise appearance last week at the National Congress of Theoretical Physicists, during which he committed ICANN to preventing the heat death of the universe, as further evidence that ICANN is acting outside its remit.
Members of the domain name industry also expressed outrage.
Donuts, which has applied for .herpes, claimed Chehade’s speech threatened to interfere with its business model.
“If ICANN cures herpes, who’s going to defen… who’s going to register a .herpes domain name?” CEO Paul Stahura said.
The trademark community cautiously welcomed Chehade’s plans, but said they did not go far enough to protect rights holders.
“For too long, herpes has caused irritation for many in the IP community,” said Intellectual Property Constituency chair Kristina Rosette. “Not to mention widespread squatting problems.”
But ICANN should take care to protect the rights of HerpesTM, a popular brand of canned soup in Latin America, she added.
Meanwhile, DotConnectAfrica pointed to a throwaway line in Chehade’s speech as unambiguous proof of an illegal conspiracy against its .africa bid involving ICANN, DI, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Rosicrucians, the Bilderberg Group and the Ku Klux Klan.