ICANN targets May 22 for reopening gTLD application system

ICANN will now accept applications on the system till May 30

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) hopes to reopen on May 22 its system that will allow people to apply for a variety of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

The TAS (TLD application system) was brought down on April 12 by the organization 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 had earlier fixed April 12 as the last date for submitting applications, which was extended to April 20 after the glitch was discovered.

ICANN said it had no indication that the system was hacked or the target of any type of cyber-attack.

"We have seen no evidence that any TAS user intentionally did anything wrong in order to be able to see other users' information," ICANN said on Tuesday.

System response had however slowed down because of increased user volume as the end of the application period was reached. Steps are being taken to improve response times when the system reopens, ICANN said last month.

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

The board of directors of ICANN approved in June last year an increase in the number of gTLDs from the current 22, which will potentially create new TLDs including in non-Latin, and non-English scripts. Trademark owners have however objected to it, claiming it will make it difficult for them to protect their intellectual property over the large number of new TLDs.

If the TAS system is up as targeted later this month, ICANN expects it would remain open for five business days and close on May 30. This takes account of the May 28 Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., it said.

"We 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," ICANN chief operating officer Akram Atallah said in a statement. On Monday, for example, its 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.

ICANN said it met its commitment to notify users by a May 8 deadline if they were affected.

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 has received about US$350 million in fees for applications for new gTLDs.

To make amends, ICANN offered on Monday a full refund of the application fees paid by any new gTLD applicant that wished to withdraw an application prior to publication of the list of new top-level domain names that were applied for. The offer added $5,000 to the refund withdrawing applicants were ordinarily eligible to receive.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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