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VeriSign Suspends Site Finder Service

Threats from ICANN forced the vendor to drop Web site redirection service.
VeriSign Inc., which manages the .com and .net Internet name registries, on Monday said it suspended its Site Finder service because the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet's domain-naming system, ordered it to end the service. The company said it reluctantly suspended the service and accused ICANN of stifling Internet innovation and investment in the Internet's infrastructure.

VeriSign executive VP Russell Lewis said the company "reluctantly" suspended the Site Finder service over the weekend, even though it didn't have a "contractual obligation to do so." However, ICANN sent a letter to VeriSign on Friday demanding that the service be shut down by Saturday. If VeriSign didn't comply, ICANN said it would have "no choice but to seek promptly to enforce VeriSign's contractual obligations."

The fight began Sept. 15 when VeriSign began directing all mistyped URLs--some 20 million a day, according to the company--to Site Finder instead of sending back the usual "no domain" or "page not found" error message. Web surfers who mistyped a URL were sent to a Site Finder page, where they would see a VeriSign controlled page that offered a search engine and links to what Site Finder guessed users were attempting to reach.

ICANN contends the Site Finder service had significant adverse effects on the Internet, Web browsing, E-mail, applications, and sequenced lookup services, and that it produced incompatibility problems with other services. Critics of VeriSign have alleged Site Finder produced problems with everything from spam filters to network printers.

Lewis today disputed those allegations and says the service had little impact on the Internet. He argued that the company is in strict compliance with all Internet standards and the Internet Architecture Board.