Verisign/NSI ICANN Throws Down the Gauntlet to VeriSign on Sitefinder
posted by michael on Friday October 03 2003, @05:31AM

Heeding calls that it was do or die, harried or emboldened by the howls of rage from the technical community, perhaps conscious that this is its golden moment to win friends and increase its power, and (to my surprise) not even waiting for the Oct. 7 meeting of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee, ICANN today announced that it sent "a formal demand" to VeriSign that it "return the operation of the .com and .net domains to their state before the 15 September changes, pending further technical, operational and legal evaluation." And ICANN gave VeriSign less than 48 hours to comply.

Failure to do so, ICANN wrote to VeriSign, would result in ICANN taking "the steps necessary" under VeriSign's agreements with ICANN "to compel compliance with them." ICANN's letter dated Oct. 3, and released to the public 6am California time says that "VeriSign must suspend the changes to the .com and .net top-level domains introduced on 15 September 2003 by 6:00 PM PDT on 4 October 2003. Failure to comply with this demand by that time will leave ICANN with no choice but to seek promptly to enforce VeriSign's contractual obligations."

Key to ICANN's demand is its assertion that Sitefinder has harmful technical properties, a charge buttressed up to a point by the IAB's findings. The critical thing about the IAB's conclusions, however, is that Sitefinder is bad because it breaks long-settled expectations, not that it is bad per se, or that it formally violates standards set out in RFC's.

We've had some lively discussion of the legal issues here and here.

Here's the key part of ICANN's letter to VeriSign:
Based on the information currently available to us, it appears that these changes have had a substantial adverse effect on the core operation of the DNS, on the stability of the Internet, and on the relevant domains, and may have additional adverse effects in the future. These effects appear to be significant, including effects on web browsing, certain email services and applications, sequenced lookup services and a pervasive problem of incompatibility with other established protocols. In addition, the responses of various persons and entities to the changes made by VeriSign may themselves adversely affect the continued effective functioning of the Internet, the DNS and the .com and .net domains. Under these circumstances, the only prudent course of action consistent with ICANN's coordination mission is to insist that VeriSign suspend these changes pending further evaluation and study, including (but certainly not limited to) the public meeting already scheduled by ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee on 7 October in Washington, D.C.

In addition, our review of the .com and .net registry agreements between ICANN and VeriSign leads us to the conclusion that VeriSign’s unilateral and unannounced changes to the operation of the .com and .net Top Level Domains are not consistent with material provisions of both agreements. These inconsistencies include violation of the Code of Conduct and equal access provisions, failure to comply with the obligation to act as a neutral registry service provider, failure to comply with the Registry Registrar Protocol, failure to comply with domain registration provisions, and provision of an unauthorized Registry Service. These inconsistencies with VeriSign's obligations under the .com and .net registry agreements are additional reasons why the changes in question must be suspended pending further evaluation and discussion between ICANN and VeriSign.

Verisign in violation of the NASA Act? | VeriSign Caves, For Now  >

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  Related Links  
· Dr. Paul Twomey
· VeriSign/NSI
· public meeting already scheduled by ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee on 7 October in Washington, D.C.
· .com
· .net
· Oct. 7 meeting of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee
· announced
· sent
· IAB's findings
· not that it is bad per se
· here
· here
· More Verisign/NSI stories
· Also by michael
ICANN Throws Down the Gauntlet to VeriSign on Sitefinder | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 16 comments | Search Discussion
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VRSN should be forced to repay SiteFinder revenues
by GeorgeK on Friday October 03 2003, @06:31AM (#12358)
User #3191 Info |

While this letter by ICANN is a step in the right direction (it should have been sent on Day 1, or better yet, pre-emptively, as many of us had warned BEFORE SiteFinder went live), it does not go far enough. As per point (d) of the Stop Verisign DNS Abuse [] petition, ICANN should insist that all audited GROSS revenues of SiteFinder (this would include Overture's share, Paxfire's share, VeriSign's share and anyone else participating in the revenue of the system) be returned to ICANN, via a payment to the GNSO in the name of the Non-Commercial Constituency. VeriSign and its partners should not be allowed to profit from their reckless behaviour.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Good Move by ICANN
by svincent on Friday October 03 2003, @07:01AM (#12360)
User #3868 Info
I am glad to see that ICANN has taken action against Verisign’s blatant disregard and lack of respect for the Internet community in relation to the Sitefinder introduction. It is refreshing to see ICANN move quickly and take a stand that is right, has some backbone, and is against Verisign. It helps belie my worry that ICANN, Verisign and the Department of Commerce are in bed with each other on all of the issues at the expense of everyone else. My only concern is that ICANN will throw Verisign the WLS “bone” in exchange for ceasing Sitefinder. ICANN needs to keep in mind that WLS, just as Sitefinder, places services at the Registry level where Verisign has monopoly control, removing competition at the registrar level and reducing consumer choice to the huge financial benefit of Verisign.

I hope ICANN is successful with this. If not it will become an ineffective and worthless body. Good luck, ICANN.

Steve Vincent, President

CAS-Holdings, Inc.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
So... WWVD?
by cambler ( on Friday October 03 2003, @08:04AM (#12361)
User #36 Info |
We've been waiting for just such a happening, haven't we?

My prediction: Verisign will refuse.



Ambler On The Net []

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
The release of ICANN 3.0
by fnord ( on Friday October 03 2003, @11:10AM (#12372)
User #2810 Info
VeriSign and ICANN have had a symbiotic mutual support system since the beginning, to the detriment of most other life form. With ICANN's new three year extension the shark is no longer in need of a sucker fish riding on it. ICANN with NO brakes on may not turn out to be a Very Good Thing. -g
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re:I Agree
by dmehus on Friday October 03 2003, @10:37AM (#12366)
User #3626 Info
These are good comments, Steve. I would suggest you submit them to both ICANN's public comment forum and the At-Large Advisory Committee's.

They will then be publicly posted and "on the record."

ICANN Public Comment Forum [mailto]

ALAC Forum [mailto]

Doug Mehus
Global Member, Internet Society
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
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