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ICANN’s gTLD application system back in action

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said Monday that its application system for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has reopened, more than a month after it was brought down because of a software glitch.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said Monday that its application system for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has reopened, more than a month after it was brought down because of a software glitch.

Registered applicants can now log in, review and submit their applications on the TLD Application System (TAS) which will stay open until 23:59 GMT on May 30, ICANN chief operating officer Akram Atallah said in a statement. Two-hour maintenance windows have been scheduled on three days, he added.

« During the last few weeks, we have fixed the technical glitch that caused us to take the system offline, » Atallah said. « Also, to address user feedback, we have improved the overall system performance and the HTML preview function. »

ICANN had earlier reported that system response had slowed down before TAS was taken down because of increased user volume as the end of the application period was reached.

A document is available on a microsite to provide advice on logging into and completing applications, submitting wire transfers, and contacting customer service.

TAS was brought down on April 12 by ICANN after it found a software glitch in the way the application system handled attachments, that could result in some users being able to see some other users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios. The organization however said that it had no evidence that the system had been hacked or was targeted by any kind of cyber-attack.

The last date for submitting applications was earlier fixed for April 12, but was later postponed to April 20 after the software glitch was found.

ICANN said earlier this month that it hoped to reopen on May 22 the system that will allow for applications for new TLDs including in non-Latin, and non-English scripts. The organization’s board of directors approved in June last year an increase in the number of gTLDs from the current 22, a move which was criticized by trademark owners who claimed it will become difficult for them to protect their intellectual property over a large number of new TLDs.

ICANN said it had delayed in reopening the system to ensure that the glitch has been resolved and testing had been completed.

When the system was taken offline on April 12, just over twelve hours remained in the application window. « We anticipate keeping TAS open for eight full days to allow users to review their applications and complete any remaining activities, » Atallah said in a statement on Thursday.

In its continuing review of the system logs and system traffic, ICANN said on Monday it determined that in two instances, a single file might have been temporarily unavailable to an applicant. Full access to the two files has been restored, and ICANN notified the affected users. There is no indication that unauthorized users were able to download, view, or modify the contents of these files, it added.

TAS held 2,091 applications either submitted or in progress when it was taken offline. There are also 214 potential applications that were registered prior to March 29, but whose payments have not yet been received or reconciled, ICANN said. The organization received about US$350 million in fees for applications for new gTLDs. In a bid to mollify applicants, ICANN offered $5,000 to applicants wishing to withdraw an application prior to publication of the list of new top-level domain names that were applied for, in addition to the refund they were ordinarily eligible to receive.


ICANN Targeting 22 May To Reopen TLD Application System

ICANN is targeting 22 May as the intended reopening date for the TLD Application System. ICANN anticipates the system remaining open for five business days and close on 30 May. This takes account of the 28 May Memorial Day holiday in the United States.

ICANN took TAS offline on 12 April days before it was scheduled to close following a technical glitch that may have allowed some users to see some file names and user names of other users. To date ICANN has seen no evidence that any TAS user intentionally did anything wrong in order to be able to see other users’ information.

In the latest announcement by Akram Atallah, ICANN’s COO, it is noted the large majority of users are unaffected by the glitch. But ICANN will continue to review the extensive database of system logs and system traffic, and any new and relevant information that emerges from this analysis will be shared with applicants in a timely way.

Even as late as yesterday, 7 May 2012, ICANN’s packet-level research uncovered a new set of instances (in addition to those previously announced) where another applicant might have viewed a set of system-generated file names. It is possible that further analysis will also show that some of the parties that we have notified were not affected, but notice was provided out of an abundance of caution.

It is expected there will be over 2300 applications for TLDs by the time applications close. While no date has been given for when applications will be revealed, given ICANN’s original timeframe of 18 days from applications close to the « big reveal », it would be expected that the TLDs applied for will be revealed sometime around 18 June or shortly thereafter. And given the ICANN meeting in Prague commences on 24 June, it could even happen then.


ICANN Blames Attachment Snafu for Domain Application Shutdown

The Internet’s governing body said this week that a glitch with the handling of attachments was the culprit behind the takedown of its domain name application system.

The problem, however, also allowed some applicants to view other applicants’ file and user names.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) domain name application system is still offline, but the organization promised an update no later than April 20.

« ICANN’s review of the technical glitch that resulted in the TLD application system being taken offline indicates that the issue stems from a problem in the way the system handled interrupted deletions of file attachments, » ICANN said in a statement. « This resulted in some applicants being able to see some other applicants’ file names and user names. »

At issue is ICANN’s plan to open up new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). At this point, there are 22 gTLDs, including .com, .org, and .net. In June, however, ICANN approved a plan that would allow people to apply for new gTLDs, like .pcmag, for example.

ICANN has been accepting gTLD applications via its TLD Application System (TAS) since Jan. 12 and was scheduled to close up shop on April 12, but the glitch prompted a temporary shutdown.

ICANN admitted that « some applicants were able to see file names and user names that belonged to other applicants. An intensive review has produced no evidence that any data beyond the file names and user names could be accessed by other users. In addition, it does not appear that this issue caused any corruption or loss of data. »

Nonetheless, ICANN said it wants to inform any affected parties before re-opening the system.

Signing up for a new gTLD is not as easy as claiming a new website. Applicants must pay a $185,000 evaluation fee, with $5,000 upfront. They might also be required to pay even more « in certain cases where specialized process steps are applicable, » in addition to business startup costs, ICANN said.

ICANN was scheduled to publish a list of applied-for domain names by April 30, but it’s unclear if that’s still a go. « We will update the target date for publication as part of our update on the timing of the reopening, no later than Friday, 20 April at 23.59 UTC, » ICANN said.

Before the application period opened, members of Congress, the FTC, and Commerce Department were concerned that there was too much uncertainty surrounding the process. ICANN declined to delay the process, saying any objection was simply « unsubstantiated fear. »

Last week, Google confirmed that it would be applying for a gTLD, but the search giant did not reveal the names it would be looking to claim – .google or .youtube, perhaps?

One controversial gTLD is .xxx, intended for use by the adult industry. ICANN officially approved the creation of a .xxx domain in March 2011, paving the way for a virtual red-light district. The ICM registry opened up public registration for these adults-only domains in December.