VeriSign suspends Site Finder

The controversial Site Finder service unveiled by VeriSign last month was temporarily suspended by the company late on Friday (3...

The controversial Site Finder service unveiled by VeriSign last month was temporarily suspended by the company late on Friday (3 October) after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) demanded that it be halted immediately.

VeriSign, which oversees the main internet database of .com and .net domain names, said it would suspend the service to provide time for both sides to discuss and resolve the matter. 

Following the service suspension, Russell Lewis, the executive vice-president of VeriSign's Naming and Directory Services Group, was critical of Icann for demanding the action without any kind of review. 

"Without so much as a hearing, Icann has formally asked us to shut down the Site Finder service," Lewis said. "We will accede to the request while we explore all of our options." 

Icann president and chief executive officer Paul Twomey was just as incredulous that VeriSign had enacted the SiteFinder service without asking permission from Icann. 

"VeriSign's unilateral and unannounced changes to the operation of the .com and .net top level domains are not consistent with material provisions" of the agreements that regulate VeriSign's operation of the two domains, Twomey wrote. Icann had asked VeriSign on 19 September to suspend the service voluntarily.

Icann said the Site Finder service has "had very significant impacts on a wide range of internet users and applications". However, VeriSign's Lewis said  there was no data to indicate that the core operation of the Domain Name System or stability of the internet has been adversely affected. 

"Icann is using anecdotal and isolated issues to attempt to regulate non-registry services, but in the interests of further working with the technical community we will temporarily suspend Site Finder," Lewis added. 

Mary Hewitt, a spokeswoman for Icann, said the organisation is "pleased that VeriSign has responded to the requests of the internet community and Icann to suspend the service. Now a full review can ensue under conditions that do not threaten the stability of the internet". 

Site Finder was launched by VeriSign on 15 September. It added a "wildcard" to its databases, sending web users to the Site Finder tool if they type a web address incorrectly or try to go to a site that does not exist.

Site Finder offered alternatative websites and paid where users could then search for the information they are seeking.

The feature drew criticism and two competing internet companies, which have alleged that it provided unfair competition. 

"The service has been well received by millions of internet users who appreciate getting navigation tools as opposed to the 'dead end' of an error message," Lewis added. 

Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld


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