Internet group: Quality over speed in new domains

Associated Press Modified: May 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm •  Published: May 4, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — The organization in charge of expanding the number of Internet address suffixes — the ".com" part of domain names — is apologizing for delays but says it's favoring "quality, not speed."

Three weeks ago, 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. At the time, ICANN planned to reopen the system within four business days. The system remains suspended indefinitely.

"We've very focused on the quality of what we do," ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said. "We take this very seriously. That's why we're moving very methodologically and professionally."

In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Beckstrom added, "We apologize for the delay, but we're committed to getting this right."

ICANN has said it needed time to figure out why the software failed and how to fix it. That was completed last week, Beckstrom said, but ICANN still must undergo extensive testing on the fixes and inform companies and organizations whose data had been exposed. He declined to offer a timetable; ICANN said Friday that it planned to provide an update after Tuesday.

Up to 1,000 domain name suffixes could be added each year in the most sweeping change to the domain name system since its creation in the 1980s.

The idea 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 will also make Chinese, Japanese and Swahili versions of ".com" possible.

After several years of deliberations, ICANN began accepting applications in mid-January. The application window was to have closed on April 12 — the same day ICANN had to shut down the system, just hours before the deadline.

The glitch did not affect general availability of the Internet's domain name system — the databases that let Internet-connected computers know where to send email and locate websites. It also did not affect the ability to register new names under existing suffixes.

Rather, the glitch was with the software ICANN had set up to take applications for new suffixes.

The proposals were supposed to be confidential until the application period closed. The software glitch allowed some applicants to view data about others, including potential competitors. The data were limited to file names and usernames, not the contents of the files.

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