ICANN Takes “Fail” To A Whole New Level

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Today is April 12 2012. It’s also meant to be the day that the new TLD application window closes.

Now it’s not.


ICANN has spectacularly failed to manage the new TLD process and will miss its own deadline by over a week.

Any prospective new TLD applicant will be greeted with the following message if they try to access the TAS (the online system ICANN provides for submitting new TLD applications):

ICANN's new TLD application system is offline

ICANN's new TLD application system is offline

In a rather badly worded announcement ICANN states that it’s extending the deadline for online applications (the only way to apply) until April 20th at 2359 UTC.

The announcement was also emailed to existing applicants.

Here’s the full text of the announcement:


From: new gTLDs [mailto:do-not-reply@gtld.icann.org]
Sent: 12. april 2012 13:52
Subject: TAS Temporarily Offline

Attention Applicants,

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.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. If you have any questions, please contact the gTLD Customer Service Center (CSC) via the CSC portal.

If you have any questions, please contact the Customer Service Center here: http://newgtlds.icann.org/applicants/customer-service

Best Regards,
New gTLD Team

What amuses me most is both the email and the announcement are entitled “TAS Temporarily Offline”. I run a hosting company and my concept of “temporarily offline” is not offline for 4 days! And this is the same organisation that wants to impose SLAs on both registries and registrars? Seriously?

I previously posted about the “big reveal” and how I thought it would be delayed, as ICANN’s track record wasn’t exactly stellar.

Guess I’ve been proven correct!

So what does this mean?

I’m sure some will try to argue that a week’s postponement of the deadline isn’t that much “in the grand scheme”, but others, including myself, would have to wonder about how ICANN invested in systems and infrastructure that were so fragile that they need this much unplanned downtime.

Any takers on my latest crazy prediction that ICANN will announce their new CEO in the next 48 hours to deflect people’s attention from this massive screw up?

And for those new TLD applicants who were planning on celebrating the “big reveal” in Vegas, will they be asking for a refund from the hotel?

UPDATE: A couple of applicants have confirmed that the TAS issues were due to its inability to handle certain characters eg. “>” and “<“. So the multi-million dollar new TLD application program was brought to a standstill due to some programmers inability to properly encode and “escape” characters? Seriously?

UPDATE 2: ICANN has finally issued another statement about the TAS issues that clarifies what the actual problem is. They’d previously told journalists that the downtime was not due to an attack and that the character encoding issue wasn’t the reason for taking it offline either:

Statement on TLD Application System

12 April 2012

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.

Out of an abundance of caution, we took the system offline to protect applicant data. We are examining how this issue occurred and considering appropriate steps forward.

We apologize for any concern this may have caused and will communicate on a regular basis on our website, which can be found at http://newgtlds.icann.org

Akram Atallah
Chief Operating Officer


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11 Responses to ICANN Takes “Fail” To A Whole New Level

  1. Alastair McDermott April 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Caused by failure to sanitise input data? That’s shocking levels of incompetence.

    There’s multiple fails all over this situation.

    • Michele Neylon April 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm #


      That’s what I’ve been led to believe. In any case delaying the closing date by over a week without extending the registration date, which closed at the end of last month, is bound to lead to criticism from some quarters

      Thanks for your comment


  2. Volker Greimann April 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    It is mainly disappointing, but not a big issue in reality. As it helps damage the trust in ICANN to manage a relatively simple process properly, the main damage is one of reputation.
    Still, the freeze and extention is much better than some of the solutions that were proposed for the problem earlier.
    I’d rather see this process seen through properly than according to an arbitrary schedule. That is not to say that further delays would be acceptable, though.
    One of my main criticisms of this process remains unaddressed:
    Why does ICANN need the full application amount now even for those TLDs that may not be even reviewed for another year or two…

    • Michele Neylon April 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm #


      I’ve always wondered about the financial aspects of the process and you’d have to wonder how they can rationalise taking the money now and not doing anything for more than a year ..

      Thanks for your comment



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