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Status After ‘Hurricane SiteFinder’: Is It Over?

After roughly 19 days of its introduction, VeriSign’s Site Finder service was finally shutdown on October 4, 2003 following a “Formal Deadline” issued by ICANN (previously reported here). With the plug pulled, the Internet appears to be returning to its regular status ending a historic event that can be best described as a ‘Hurricane’—a Cyber-Hurricane. What follows is a collection of commentaries and questions raised around the Net in response to this event during and after the final hours of VeriSign’s deadline:

Jean-Michel Becar, Global Media Online Senior Architect

“So looks like we just won a battle…but not the war yet. The road will be tough I guess.

Now the problem is some ISP already implemented the ISC patch for bind but looks like it prevents the IDN [International Domain Names] resolution to work :-( so as a Japanese registrar and ISP this is a serious issue as the IDN represents a big part of our market.

Verisign made more damage that they thought with that sudden SiteFinder without consultation.”
(Source: GNSO Mailing List)

Wendy Seltzer, Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney

“ICANN demanded, at last, that the SiteFinder disservice be suspended, and VeriSign grudgingly complied. As EFF’s Seth Schoen notes, VeriSign complains of not getting a hearing when they gave none to the Internet community before launching wildcards. Likewise, they fuss about notice to the community only after giving none to that same community impacted when wildcard resolution was launched.

SiteFinder should not be suspended because it breaks hundreds of specific applications; it should be stopped because it breaks with the end-to-end architecture of the Internet to give one company monopolistic control of a resource in the center. It’s not a contest between SiteFinder’s search page and MSN’s, but between giving VeriSign sole, centralized control of the error-handling for incorrect URLs and distributing that choice among users and applications at the edge of the network. The contest is rather SiteFinder versus (MSN or simple language-appropriate error message or WAP-provider’s response or SiteFinder or ...), with that choice repeated across the variety of services that use DNS. Keeping SiteFinder out of the center leaves the greatest flexibility in the network for those who want to add new protocols, services, and features on the ends.

ICANN has called for “further evaluation and study” of the impact of SiteFinder. The proper evaluation is for VeriSign to determine whether it will reimplement its advertiser-supported search as an option at the edge of the network or not at all.”
(Source: Wendy.Seltzer.org - The Blog)

Seth Schoen, Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Technologist

“VeriSign complains ICANN gave it no hearing—yet VeriSign gave no hearing to the Internet community before adopting Site Finder, and still seems deaf to public concerns.”
(Source: EFF)

Matt Larson, VeriSign Naming and Directory Services

“VeriSign was directed by ICANN to suspend the Site Finder service by 0100 UTC on Sunday, October 5.  We requested an extension from ICANN to give more notice to the community but were denied.  We will be removing the wildcard A records from the .com and .net zones beginning at 2300 UTC on Saturday, October 4.  The former behavior for these zones (returning Name Error/RCODE=3 in response to queries for nonexistent domain names) will be in place by 0100 UTC on Sunday, October.”
(Source: NANOG)

Paul Twomey, ICANN President

“ICANN is sympathetic to concerns that have been expressed by VeriSign and others about the process by which proposed changes in the operation of a top-level domain registry are evaluated and approved by ICANN. To deal with these concerns, ICANN’s President and CEO Paul Twomey is asking the Generic Names Supporting Organization to formulate a proposal for a timely, transparent and predictable procedure for the introduction of new registry services, including as to how a reasonable determination of the likelihood that a proposed change will have adverse effects. This process, to be conducted under the GNSO’s new streamlined policy development process, should be completed by 15 January 2004.”
(Source: ICANN)

Gregory Block

“These strong words from ICANN, and the quick response by Verisign to avoid sanctions, are the strongest sign yet that ICANN is fast becoming the kind of organization its founding fathers, and its board members, had always dreamed it might become - a responsible, responsive, and respectable steward of one of the Internet’s most valuable and important natural resources, DNS.

We can all wish that action came quicker; however, in taking their time, ICANN was able to gather the information and evidence needed to make the strongest possible demand - information and evidence that will at the very least curb the actions of rogue abuse by Verisign and others in the future, and at the very best may finally bring fresh stewards to .com and .net, and finally rebalance the power of Verisign over the future of DNS and the Internet that relies on it.”
(Source: CTOForADay.com)

Anonymous Slashdot Observer

“As of about 8:00 PM EST the wildcard A records pointing to appear to be gone. I’m now getting normal NXDOMAIN responses to queries for nonexistent names.

As for the Web site, I suppose they must have taken that down, too. If you try explicitly going to [] (sitefinder-idn.verisign.com) you get a keen little page that says

We didn’t find:
There is no Web site at this address.”
(Source: Slashdot)

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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MichaelD  –  Oct 8, 2003 4:30 AM

It is apparent following the recent ICANN meeting that Verisign has determined they own the Internet and will determine how it works regardless of the needs of other stakeholders.
Please see this article on CNET: http://news.com.com/2100-1038-5088128.html

Frankly, it is my opinion that the business model that allows a vendor to highjack the Internet network control to its own ends - must now be brought to a halt.  Verisign has made it clear it will restart the Site Finder redirect whenever it pleases and that will be sooner rather than later.  They may decide to address a few of the problems or they may not.

Allowing Verisign to make whatever choices they decide are good for Verisign does not reflect in any way how the shared resource that is the Internet actually works day to day.  What can and cannot be done by a company in the position of Verisign must now be clearly codified and the balance of control must swing in the direction of the user community itself.

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