October 04, 2003
Losing SiteFinder

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.

Posted by Wendy at 10:52 AM