What About Baidu?

FairWinds Partners —  August 26, 2013

Google’s been up to a lot lately: It recently signed on to an intellectual property best practices document aimed at cutting off ad revenue to cybersquatters. Its investment in new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will (or won’t) come to bear soon. It announced the launch of Chromecast. And it continues to generate privacy issue buzz with Google Glass.

So what’s Baidu, China’s answer to Google, up to these days?

As Bloomberg reported at the end of July, Baidu is doing very well financially. “The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. rose 3.3 percent last week to 92.88. Baidu, which reported second-quarter profits after buying a mobile application store earlier this month, jumped 15 percent in each of the past two weeks, beating forecasts. NQ Mobile Inc. (NQ) posted a record 11-day winning streak as it formed a partnership with Baidu. Online fashion retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd. (VIPS) surged 13 percent after an analyst said it may be acquired.”

As far as new gTLDs, Baidu applied for .BAIDU. Like the monsters in this summer’s blockbuster “Pacific Rim”, is this an indication that the Chinese search giant is planning to cross the ocean and battle Google on its own turf? Possibly, though the Chinese company could also be securing the space defensively, atleast initially, in order to try to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Last month, in its latest communiqué, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) recommended that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) delay processing applications for certain new gTLDs such as .GUANGZHOU, .SHENZHEN, .SPA and .YUN  “until the agreements between the relevant parties are reached.”

While the relevant parties (the applicants hoping to run one of these new gTLDs in the future) duke it out, Baidu has taken it upon itself to release an “Anti-Fraud Guide for Eight High Risk Areas on the Internet.” According to a recent post on danwei.com, a site that tracks Chinese media outlets, the Beijing Evening News devoted serious real-estate to breaking down the information in the guide, informing readers that websites involving “financial management, value recharge, pharmaceuticals, online shopping, ticket bookings, after-sales services, express delivery, and prize draws” are the top eight types of websites to be wary of when navigating the Internet.

China

The guide goes on to cite data from the Anti-Phishing Alliance of China, including the disturbing finding that 30 percent of all online shoppers have been victims of scams AND that over “60 million netizens had already lost money to online fraudsters.” This is particularly relevant to note because of the possible connection between the new, large, swaths of Internet real estate – new gTLDs – and cybersquatting, which can be connected to other cybercrimes like phishing.

The introduction of new gTLDs, particularly those that involve brand names, could represent a significant development in the fight against this type of online scamming and abuse. For example, the applicant behind the new gTLD .PHARMACY is likely to only allow licensed pharmacies and other trusted entities in the industry to register .PHARMACY second-level domain names, thereby creating a safe and trusted space for consumers. Similarly, the applicant behind the new gTLD for .BANK is likely to only allow legitimate financial institutions to register .BANK domain names.

Even new “branded” gTLDs like .NIKE could help consumers in China and around the world know, for sure, that they’re buying genuine goods and not counterfeit items – no matter which search engine they use to find those goods.