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VeriSign Site Finder Request For Comments

17 September 2003

ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee request for comments
Verisign Registry Re-direction of Queries for Non-existant Domain Names

en espanol

Please share your views on Verisign Registry's new service which redirects
domain lookups for misspelled or
nonexistent domain names to its own site.

On 16 September, the ALAC submitted the following statement to ICANN's Board
of Directors:

The 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

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 countrary 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 chosing 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

Vittorio Bertola
ALAC Chair