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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Contentious net service dropped
The Site Finder web page
The Site Finder web page was much criticised
Domain name provider Verisign has agreed to drop its controversial service that sent people to its site if they mistyped web addresses.

After its September launch, Verisign's Site Finder was widely condemned as it replaced error messages with a page offering other sites.

Critics said it hijacked users and inadvertently helped spammers.

The group that co-ordinates the internet, Icann, said it was pleased Verisign was suspending the service.

Security worry

Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, had given the company until last Friday to agree to restore .com and .net web domains to how they were before the service started.

Verisign had asked for an extension to the deadline "so the technical community would have time to implement the reversal", but that was rejected by Icann.

The domain registry service is now "exploring all of its options" while its service is suspended, said a spokesman .

Computer keyboard, Eyewire
Mistyped domains can lead to error messages
The service meant anyone looking for a .com or .net domain that did not exist, because they typed the name incorrectly or was unregistered, would have been sent to Site Finder.

Verisign had claimed to be offering net users a convenient service.

But other net providers and network administrators claimed the firm had overstepped its authority in doing this.

"There have been widespread expressions of concern about the impact of these changes on the security and the stability of the internet," Icann said in a statement.

The net policy body said Site Finder made spam filters ineffective, affected other automated net tools and services, and raised privacy issues.

Spammers who send unsolicited e-mails use non-existent domain names to hide their tracks.

Some anti-spam organisations block all mail that comes from non-existent domains, but Verisign's creation of Site Finder made this impossible.

More than 20 million searches for .com and .net domains go awry daily, and Verisign had hoped it would be able to sell alternative domains to users and cash in on advertising space.

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