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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Site finding system faces suspension
Computer keyboard, Eyewire
Mistyped domains can lead to error messages
A controversial change to the way the net handles mistyped domain name queries could soon be suspended.

Last week .com and .net registry Verisign replaced the error message that usually greets users looking for mistyped or missing domains with a webpage offering alternatively spelled sites.

But Site Finder was greeted with protests who claimed Verisign was hijacking users and inadvertently helping spammers avoid detection.

Now the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) is calling for Site Finder to be suspended while it works out what effect the system is having on other net users.

Astonishing principle

Last week anyone searching for a .com or .net domain that did not exist, because they typed the name correctly or it had not been registered, would have ended up at a Site Finder webpage run by Verisign.

By setting up Site Finder, Verisign was aiming to cash in on some of the 20million searches for .com and .net domains that go wrong everyday.

It was hoping to sell alternative unclaimed domains to users or let firms buy ads on Site Finder related to the website being sought.

The move was greeted with protests not least because people fighting spam like to use the domain checking system to check if the site where junk e-mail originated actually exists.

Now Icann has stepped into the fight and has asked Verisign to suspend Site Finder while it works out if the change is causing other net users to suffer.

In a related statement the Internet Architecture Board, which keeps an eye on the technical development of the net, said Verisign's change violates some of the founding principles of the net.

The two principles in question are the Robustness Principle and the Principle of Least Astonishment.

The first suggests that small changes are better for the net and that big changes could upset the smooth running of the net's protocols.

The Principle of Least Astonishment reads: A program should always respond in the way that is least likely to astonish the user.

The IAB point out that many ad hoc net management systems relied on the old error message system and Verisign has inconvenienced many on the net with its change.

Verisign has yet to respond to the request to shut down Site Finder.




SEE ALSO:
Site finding system under fire
19 Sep 03  |  Technology
Sex.com row rumbles on
28 Jul 03  |  Technology
Net names deal reached
19 May 01  |  Science/Nature
Afghans plant flag in cyberspace
10 Mar 03  |  Technology
FBI probes attack on net
23 Oct 02  |  Technology
Major net security holes identified
31 Jan 01  |  Science/Nature


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