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Deadline Looms for New Domain Applicants Deadline Looms for New Domain Applicants

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Deadline Looms for New Domain Applicants

After a technical glitch forced it to shut down the process for a month, the group that manages the Internet's address system will stop accepting applications Wednesday from those seeking to operate a new top-level domain name.

Applicants hoping to launch a new Internet address such as .apple or .shoes will have until 7:59 pm EDT (11:59 pm GMT time) Wednesday to apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN launched the controversial domain name program in January, allowing for the introduction of almost any new generic top-level domain name, over opposition from some major trademark holders. They worry that introducing so many new domain names will make it harder to protect their brand names.

While it's unclear how many names will ultimately make it through ICANN's lengthy evaluation process, ICANN watchers say as many as 2,000 applications may have been submitted when the process finally closes. ICANN is likely to reveal the names that were applied for in mid-June but hasn't given a firm date.

The application process was extended after ICANN shut down the database used to accept applications last month. The organization had discovered a technical glitch that allowed some applicants to view information submitted by others. While ruling out a cyber attack, ICANN took several weeks to fix the problem and didn't re-open the application process until May 21.

It's "a minor technical glitch that added a month to a seven-year process," said NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco, who follows policy issues for ICANN Business Constituency, which is one of several stakeholder groups that advise ICANN.

The new domain name application deadline is just one of a handful of significant issues ICANN must deal with in the next few weeks. In addition to implementing its new domain name program, ICANN has its own deadline to re-apply for a technical contract it handles on behalf of the U.S. government.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has given those who want to operate the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which is responsible for such tasks as doling out the pool of Internet protocol numbers connecting computers to the Web, until Thursday to apply for the contract, which pays nothing.

ICANN currently runs IANA and will likely be picked again. Still, ICANN was embarrassed in March when NTIA cancelled the first request for proposals to run IANA because it said it didn't receive any acceptable bids. NTIA launched a new request for proposals to operate the IANA functions in April.

Meanwhile, ICANN also will be going through a change of leadership. ICANN's current CEO Rod Beckstrom is set to step down at the end of June. ICANN has reportedly picked a successor and may reveal the new CEO just prior to its next public meeting in late June in Prague.

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