Bloomberg News

Glitch in Web-Name Expansion Program Found by Internet Overseer

April 13, 2012

The organization that manages the Internet’s address system said a glitch in its online application system for new top-level domains let some users view information about competitors.

A “limited” number of applicants were allowed to “view some other users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios,” Akram Atallah, chief operating officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said in a statement posted its website yesterday. The nonprofit group took the system offline “to protect applicant data” and is “considering appropriate steps forward,” he said.

Icann, operating under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, began accepting applications Jan. 12 for new words to the right of the dot in a Web address, including company and city names such as .apple or .nyc. The group approved the expansion last year in a move to spur online innovation. It has said the program may result in thousands of new Web suffixes beyond .com and .org.

More than 40 companies, including General Electric Co. (GE:US), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ:US), and Coca-Cola Co. (KO:US) have opposed the domain- name expansion, saying a proliferation of Web suffixes will increase costs for companies and confuse consumers. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has said the plan may increase opportunities for Internet fraud and called on Icann to reduce the number of domains created.

Icann first reported a “technical issue” with the online application system in a statement yesterday and said it was extending its application window to April 20. The group has said it will publish a list of applicants on April 30.

Brad White, an Icann spokesman, declined today to comment beyond the statement. Moira Vahey, a spokeswoman for the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees the Icann contract, declined to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at eengleman1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at Bkohn2@bloomberg.net.


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