A technical issue forced the Internet's primary governing body to extend the deadline for applications for new generic top-level domains.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced in a statement today that "unusual behavior" with the system's software led the organization to reschedule the GTLD application cutoff date to April 20:
ICANN constantly monitors the performance of the TLD Application System (TAS). Recently, we received a report of unusual behavior with the operation of the TAS system. We then identified a technical issue with the TAS system software.
ICANN is taking the most conservative approach possible to protect all applicants and allow adequate time to resolve the issue. Therefore, TAS will be shut down until Tuesday at 23:59 UTC - unless otherwise notified before that time.
In order to ensure all applicants have sufficient time to complete their applications during the disruption, the application window will remain open until 23:59 UTC on Friday, 20 April 2012.
Last June ICANN approved the increase the number of domain endings from the current 22, which includes the well-established .com, .net, and .org. The move will allow domains to end in almost any word, allowing companies to turn their brands into Internet extensions.
ICANN said in February that 100 organizations had registered to participate in the program, although ICANN didn't say who they are or what GTLDs they're seeking to establish. Each registrant may apply for as many as 50 GTLDs.
The GTLD expansion has been criticized by advertising groups that fear it will lead to expensive efforts to defend brands and trademarks. ICANN says the system is set up to protect against brand problems, though, in part through use of a trademark clearinghouse.
Update April 13 at 10:01 a.m. PT: ICANN later released a follow-up statement saying that some personal data may have been exposed. "We have learned of a possible glitch in the TLD application system software that has allowed a limited number of users to view some other users' file names and user names in certain scenarios," ICANN wrote. "Out of an abundance of caution, we took the system offline to protect applicant data."