ICANN grills VeriSign over Site Finder service
Members of an ICANN committee were upset with the company
IDG News Service - VeriSign Inc. faced a series of questions about last month's launch of its Site Finder search page from members of an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) committee yesterday, with members asking why the company didn't poll the technology community about the ramifications before launching Site Finder.
Members of ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee are looking at whether the Site Finder search page, designed to redirect mistyped URLs, affected the stability of the Internet by confusing some e-mail and Internet applications. The committee met twice with VeriSign officials in Washington this month. Its next step will be to make a recommendation about Site Finder to the board of Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based ICANN. Many of the questions yesterday ventured away from security and into other territory, such as asking why VeriSign didn't notify ICANN and other standards bodies sooner before launching the service Sept. 15 and why VeriSign polled Internet users but not technologists and domain-name owners before launching Site Finder.
Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign pulled down the Site Finder service early this month after complaints from ICANN and other groups that the service caused problems for some e-mail and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol servers because those applications or servers didn't receive traditional error messages. Other critics charged the company with trying to use its control of the .com and .net domains, for which VeriSign serves as the registrar under a contract with ICANN, to dominate the Web search market.
Committee and audience members asked why VeriSign launched the service with little notice and why the company didn't want to share some of the details of polling it did regarding the launch of Site Finder. Polling questions and some internal testing are proprietary information, VeriSign officials said.
"The Internet was really built not by a set of companies that built closed, proprietary systems but by a much more open system," said committee Chairman Steve Crocker.
Others questioned whether Site Finder was forcing other systems administrators to make changes to their systems, resulting in a kind of Site Finder tax. Of seven outstanding issues identified by VeriSign, only two require action by the company, said audience member David Lesher, with most of the others requiring software updates on the user's end.
"In the words of the current [Bush] administration, this is a large cost-shifting, an unfunded mandate from VeriSign to the community," Lesher said.
At yesterday's meeting, VeriSign officials defended the service, saying it complies with Internet standards. If they resurrect Site Finder, they plan to add a second Domain Name System wild-card entry, called
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