VeriSign says ICANN is stifling Net's progress

VeriSign Inc. counterattacked today.

Officials of the Mountain View, Calif., company argued that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' demand that it suspend its Site Finder wild-card search site will stifle new services and investment in the Internet's infrastructure.

Under pressure from ICANN, VeriSign reluctantly turned off Site Finder Saturday, said executive vice president Rusty Lewis. ICANN on Friday had called for VeriSign to discontinue the service.

"We temporarily suspended it," Lewis said. "I don't believe ICANN has the contractual authority to shut us down."

He said VeriSign is soliciting "feedback from the entire Internet community" and will make money from redirecting mistyped uniform resource locators "only when someone clicks" on a link suggested by Site Finder. VeriSign is registrar for the .com and .net domains.

A year ago when the Domain Name System's root servers were under denial-of-service attack, he said, "VeriSign's two servers withstood it because of our investment to fortify them."

Lewis called the present controversy "quite a lively debate, much more about philosophy and approach than about security and stability" and at bottom about whether innovation will be allowed.

He said VeriSign is in "strict compliance with all existing standards of the Internet Architecture Board."

Matt Larson, the company's principal engineer for directory services, said VeriSign receives about 2 billion connection requests per day; about 20 million addresses are faulty or mistyped.

He said it is untrue that Site Finder was destabilizing the Internet, as ICANN suggested, and that Site Finder does not break spam filters. What it does, he said, is stop the first step of spam filtering?checking that an e-mail message comes from a recognized domain.

"Our privacy policy is posted," he said. "VeriSign is not collecting Web usage statistics or e-mail addresses."

Susan M. Menke writes for Government Computer News magazine

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