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VeriSign stands firm on Site Finder

Typo-squatting service stays online

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VeriSign is refusing to back down in the increasingly acrimonious row over its controversial Site Finder redirection service.

Last week, Net governing body ICANN called on VeriSign to "voluntarily suspend" Site Finder amid concerns that the service conflicts with key Net technical standards.

Site Finder was launched last week when VeriSign applied a "wildcard" entry into the .com and .net Top Level Domain zones. This redirects traffic that would otherwise have resulted in a "no domain" response to the controversial search site.

According to Internet Architecture Board (IAB), VeriSign's changes have had "undesirable and unintended consequences", imposing an overhead on users, and affecting the robustness of the Internet.

Russell Lewis, general manager of VeriSign's Naming and Directory Services business, has responded by telling ICANN it has no intention of suspending the service, though it is prepared to meet with senior Net techies to discuss its move.

"All indications are that users, important members of the Internet community we all serve, are benefiting from the improved web navigation offered by Site Finder," he writes in a letter to ICANN boss Paul Twomey.

"We are, of course, very interested in any objective technical information ICANN may have received concerning the service and would welcome the opportunity to work with you to review such data. To that end, we have reached out to schedule meetings with ICANN's Chairman, Vint Cerf, and the Chairman of ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee, Steve Crocker, to exchange information regarding issues that may be encountered in the community.

"We have also formed an independent technical review panel to gather and analyse data for the purpose of assessing any operational impact of our wildcard implementation," he adds.

Any talk of suspending VeriSign's Site Finder service is "premature" without reviewing all the available technical evidence, Lewis argues.

Statistics from traffic monitoring outfit Alexa provide evidence of a fivefold increase in traffic to VeriSign since it launched Site Finder, propelling the company's site into the 20 most visited Net destinations category. The revenue potential of selling ads on the site is therefore huge.

Critics of VeriSign argue that the company is abusing its position as custodian of the .com and .net domain registry. As well as a fight with the techies, VeriSign's move has also drawn legal fire from its competitors.

Yesterday registrar Go Daddy Software filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against VeriSign's new Site Finder service.

The suit seeks a similar outcome to a legal action by search engine firm Popular Enterprises launched last week. Both companies accuse VeriSign of "hijacking" surfers who get lost on the Web. ®

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