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ICANN eggfaced after publishing dot-word biz overlords' personal info

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

After proudly revealing the details of almost 2,000 new generic top-level domain applications, red-faced ICANN was today forced to yank the whole lot after applicants complained that their home addresses had been published by mistake.

ICANN published the partial text of 1,930 gTLD bids – each of which carried a $185,000 application fee – during a splashy event in London on Wednesday.

Only 30 of the 50 questions in each application were supposed to be revealed; details about financial performance, technical security and personal contact information were supposed to be redacted.

But ICANN accidentally also published the full contact information of each bid's primary and secondary contact – including in many cases their home addresses.

These named individuals were were in several confirmed cases also the senior officers and directors of the company applying.

The Applicant Guidebook, the bible for the ICANN new gTLD process, specifically stated that home addresses would not be published.

“This was an oversight and the files have been pulled down,” ICANN’s manager of gTLD communications Michele Jourdan said in an email. “We are working on bringing them back up again without this information.”

Some applicants said they notified ICANN about the breach as early as Wednesday afternoon, but it was not until El Reg called for comment late last night that the documents were taken down.

As of 8am today the applications have been republished with the offending data removed.

For many of the big brand names applying for new gTLDs, the fact that they had to file personal data about their officers and directors – needed for ICANN's background checks – was a much higher barrier to the programme than the $185,000 fee.

“Many of our customers were reticent to put their information forward and needed a lot of reassuring,” one major new gTLD consultant told us. “They are going to be really, really livid about this.”

Other applicants, such as those applying for potentially controversial strings, have also expressed a security concern after their officers' addresses were published.

It's not the first security problem to hit the ICANN programme. Its bespoke TLD Application System software was taken down for six weeks after a vulnerability was discovered that exposed some bidders' secret application data to other applicants.

ICANN also came in for criticism from Arabic speakers during its “Reveal Day” event in King's Cross on Wednesday. Projecting a scrolling list of the applied-for gTLDs onto the stage backdrop, the organisation inadvertently spelled every one of the Arabic-script strings backwards. Multi-lingual domain name expert Khaled Fattal of the Multilingual Internet Group told us that many in the Arab world found this insulting, as well as commercially irritating.

With so many technical snafus in the first six months of the programme, many ICANN watchers are nervous about the organisation's ability to carry out its controversial “digital archery” process, which will be used to batch applications for evaluation purposes. ®

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