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ALAC Statement on Site Finder

Thomas Roessler

The ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee would like to bring to ICANN's attention concerns about VeriSign's surprising roll-out of the "SiteFinder" service for .com and .net.

SiteFinder works by re-directing queries for non-existing domain names to the IP address of a search service that is being run by VeriSign.

This practice raises grave technical concerns, as it de facto removes error diagnostics from the DNS protocol, and replaces them by an error handling method that is tailored for HTTP, which is just one of the many Internet protocols that make use of the DNS. We will leave it for others to explain the details of these concerns, but note that returning resource records in a way which is contrary to the very design of the DNS certainly does not promote the stability of the Internet.

These concerns are not mitigated by VeriSign's efforts to work around the consequences of breaking the Internet's design on a service-by-service basis: These workarounds make specific assumptions on the conclusions that Internet software would be drawing from nonexisting domain names; these assumptions are not always appropriate.

When working as intended, the service centralizes error handling decisions at the registry that are rightly made in application software run on users' computers. Users are deprived of the opportunity to chose those error handling strategies best suited for their needs, by choosing appropriate products available on a competitive marketplace. Software makers are deprived of the opportunity to compete by developing innovative tools that best match the user's needs.

We urge ICANN to take whatever steps are necessary to stop this "service."

By Thomas Roessler, Mathematician
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