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VeriSign and ICANN Settle Lawsuit

ICANN has announced today that it has tentatively agreed to settle a longstanding dispute with VeriSign Inc. The dispute which began in part from SiteFinder, a controversial search service VeriSign created in late 2003 for users who mistype Web addresses. The following is an excerpt from today's press release:

"VeriSign and ICANN reached an agreement that strikes the important balance of providing business certainty for VeriSign and other registry operators while ensuring that ICANN can play an effective and clearly established role as technical coordinator.

A critical component to strike that balance is a framework that establishes processes and guidelines for the introduction of new services, provides business certainty for top-level domain name registry operators and embraces a sensible market approach to registry pricing. VeriSign and ICANN also agreed to extend the .com registry agreement through 2012."

According to ICANN, the two parties are expected to sign new contracts "intended to balance innovation and business certainty with the need to ensure competition, security and stability in the domain name system."

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Re: VeriSign and ICANN Settle Lawsuit The Famous Brett Watson  –  Oct 24, 2005 7:56 PM PDT

"A search service for users who mistype web addresses," is VeriSign's description of SiteFinder. Here's mine.

SiteFinder was, ostensibly, a search service for users who mistype web addresses. It was technically remarkable in that it relied on the addition of a "wildcard" address record to the ".com" DNS zone. Only VeriSign, as custodian of that zone, was in a position to effect such a change. The act thus constituted a use — arguably an abuse — of their privileged position. The change had widespread unintended consequences (e.g. in the area of spam filtering) because the changes were not — and technically could not be — web-specific. Many systems administrators were sufficiently inconvenienced by the "service" that they took preemptive action against such a change disrupting their operation in future. This motivated the addition of a feature in the "BIND" DNS server to selectively ignore wildcard records.

So was VeriSign legitimately "monetizing an asset" with SiteFinder, or abusing a public trust for private gain? In as many words as possible, today's announcement completely fails to answer this question. Whatever agreement they have struck may well provide "business certainty for top-level domain name registry operators", but as a top-level domain name registrant and general user of the DNS, I feel far from reassured.

Re: VeriSign and ICANN Settle Lawsuit George Kirikos  –  Oct 24, 2005 10:20 PM PDT

My comments are at:

http://gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/ga/msg02847.html

If ICANN was negotiating for the USA during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we'd all be speaking Russian today.

It's my hope that the GNSO will vocally oppose this proposed settlement which is not in the best interest of domain name registrants.

Sincerely,

George Kirikos
http://www.kirikos.com/

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