The organization overseeing a major expansion of Internet address suffixes hopes to resume taking proposals on May 22 following a technical glitch that shut down its computer system for weeks.
Last month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers abruptly shut down a system for letting companies and organizations propose new suffixes, after it discovered a software glitch that exposed some private data. The data in some cases offered clues about which companies were proposing what suffixes _ details that were supposed to be confidential. ICANN said it had no evidence that anyone intentionally viewed the data.
If it can accept proposals again as planned, the application window will run until May 30.
The original deadline was April 12, but ICANN shut down the system just hours before it was to close. At the time, ICANN planned to reopen the system within four business days. Instead, it found it needed more time to figure out why the software had failed and how to fix it. It also had to notify affected applicants.
Up to 1,000 domain name suffixes _ the ".com" part of an Internet address _ could be added each year in the most sweeping change to the domain name system since its creation in the 1980s.
From a technical standpoint, the names let Internet-connected computers know where to send email and locate websites. But they've come to mean much more.
The idea behind the expansion is to let Las Vegas hotels, casinos and other attractions congregate around ".Vegas," or a company such as Canon Inc. draw customers to "cameras.Canon" or "printers.Canon." The new system would also make Chinese, Japanese and Swahili versions of ".com" possible.
The delay shouldn't have a major effect on the availability of new suffixes, as the new names won't appear in general use until at least next spring anyway _ in many cases, much later.
Before ICANN suspended applications, it had received 2,091 submissions _ fully completed or in progress _ and another 214 for which it was still awaiting or processing application fees. That means applications will be divided into at least four batches of about 500 each, potentially stretching the review process over a few years.
Each application costs $185,000. Applicants had been allowed to withdraw bids for a partial refund, but ICANN said this week that they could get all their money back because of the glitch if desired.
ICANN has received $350 million in applications fees so far. The money will pay for ICANN's costs setting up the system, reviewing applications and making sure parties do what they have promised once the suffix is operational. Some of the money will be set aside for potential lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants and others. Companies can make money by selling names under approved suffixes.