October 15, 2003 5:23 PM PDT

VeriSign to revive redirect service?

VeriSign will give a 30- to 60-day notice before resuming a controversial and temporarily suspended feature that redirected many .com and .net domains, company representatives said Wednesday.

Speaking before an unusual gathering of technical experts in Washington, D.C., VeriSign said its own re-evaluation of its Site Finder redirection service found "no identified security or stability problems." When it was active, Site Finder added a "wild card" for .com and .net domains that snared queries to nonexistent Internet sites and forwarded them to VeriSign's own servers.


What's new:
VeriSign said it will give at least 30 days notice before it resumes its controversial feature that redirects many .com and .net domains

Bottom line:
VeriSign said it would address specific criticisms by adding foreign language support to Site Finder and tweaking the way e-mail to nonexistent domains worked.

For more info:
Site Finder fight

That confused some antispam filters and other network utilities, a side effect that VeriSign downplayed on Wednesday by arguing that Site Finder's benefits to end users--a search screen instead of an error message--outweighed the costs to network administrators. "One of the segments of the community that has not been looked at in this whole issue, in my opinion, is the user community," VeriSign Vice President Chuck Gomes said. "They're very relevant."

In a presentation, VeriSign said that 35 companies were confidentially briefed about Site Finder before its debut and they reported "no issues" or problems before its launch on Sept. 15. Its own expert group--including the chief technology officers of Brightmail and Morgan Stanley--reviewed Site Finder and decided that most issues were "minor or inconvenient," VeriSign said. Before resuming Site Finder, VeriSign said it would address specific criticisms by adding foreign language support to Site Finder and tweaking the way e-mail to nonexistent domains worked.

VeriSign's Matt Larson, who spoke at the meeting organized by the Security and Stability Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), said a poll paid for by his company showed 84 percent of U.S. citizens surveyed had a "preference" in favor of Site Finder. ICANN is the California nonprofit group that has an agreement with the U.S. government to oversee some aspects of Internet addressing and successfully pressured VeriSign to halt Site Finder on Oct. 3.

But Gomes and Larson, under intense questioning from ICANN committee members, refused to release details about the methodology of the survey such as the questions asked and the responses received. "The actual feedback we got directly from doing the survey is proprietary information," Larson said.

Committee Chairman Stephen Crocker, a veteran of many Internet standards groups, suggested those details would be necessary to evaluate the results. "It's not a matter of stacking the deck," he said. "It's what are you measuring."

Crocker's questions, along with queries from Ram Mohan of Afilias, a domain name registry, prompted an angry reaction from VeriSign representatives.

Gomes said: "I'm utterly clueless about how what we've been talking about for the last few minutes has to do with security and stability"--the ICANN committee's mandate.

Larson suggested that "you guys don't think consumers are relevant" and that committee members were unduly focused on the travails of network operators affected by the Site Finder changes.

"We're going to have to stop this discussion and turn to a different venue," Larson said.

The ICANN committee held an earlier meeting on Site Finder on Oct. 7.

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This Article must keep alive as a history on the domain name news.
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