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ICANN offers refunds over gTLD system shutdown

ICANN, the body running registrations for the new generic top-level domains, has offered refunds to applicants who have been inconvenienced by a shutdown of the application system.The organisation, which is responsible for managing the DNS root zone, closed down the gTLD application system on 12 April, because it had a bug that exposed the applications details of some applicants to others.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

ICANN, the body running registrations for the new generic top-level domains, has offered refunds to applicants who have been inconvenienced by a shutdown of the application system.

The organisation, which is responsible for managing the DNS root zone, closed down the gTLD application system on 12 April, because it had a bug that exposed the applications details of some applicants to others. ICANN says the system held 2,091 applications, for which it had received around $350m (£217m) in fees, at the time of it being taken offline.

Applicants are still unable to view the progress of their TLD applications, as the system remains closed.

"In recognition of the inconvenience caused by the temporary suspension of the TLD application system, ICANN will provide a full refund of the application fees paid by any new gTLD applicant that wishes to withdraw its application prior to publication of the list of applied-for new top-level domain names," ICANN chief operating officer Akram Atallah said in a statement on Monday.

Generic top-level domains can use words that refer to brands, such as '.coke', and also non-Latin characters. The application process opened in January, with fees of $185k per gTLD.

If applicants had withdrawn their gTLD applications in normal circumstances, they would have forfeited $5k to ICANN. Atallah said the organisation recognised that its special refund offer only meant that relatively small difference, but added: "We believe it is an important part of fulfilling our commitment to treat applicants fairly."

Over recent days, ICANN has been notifying those applicants that it thinks had their data viewed by others. The organisation reckons 105 applicants "might have had file names and user names viewed by another applicant", and 50 may have been exposed to more than one other applicant.

Although it was originally supposed to announce which gTLDs had been applied for on 30 April, ICANN is yet to re-open its TLD registration system.

The body said last week that it was "testing the fix for the glitch", and has promised to keep the system open for at least five business days "to allow applicants to assure themselves that their applications remain as they intended".

ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom also suggested in an interview that, if any applicant had gained an unfair advantage by being able to see a competing application, they might have their bid scrapped.

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