A Canadian domain name registrar has joined the chorus of dissent over a service from Network Solutions/VeriSign that redirects misspelled or non-existent URLs to its own site.

Toronto-based easyDNS Technologies Inc. Thursday said Site Finder, which VeriSign introduced this week, will increase spam, erode intellectual property rights and cause deep division in the domain name community. Instead of sending an error message if a URL doesn’t exist or is entered incorrectly, Site Finder will take the user to Network Solutions, the domain name registration service it operates as a U.S. government-granted monopoly.

Mark Jeftovic, co-founder of easyDNS, said he would be voting in favour of a proposal by the Generic Name Supporting Organization to ask the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to suspend the Site Finder service and investigate its implications further. The U.S. government on Wednesday extended an agreement whereby ICANN oversees domain name issues.

Jeftovic said he first read about Site Finder in an news article, but believed it was still under development. “”I didn’t like the idea then, but I had no idea they were a week away from launching it,”” he said. “”This incident has really soured me and it’s soured a lot of the registrars.””

VeriSign did not return a call for comment at press time.

According to Gabriel Ahad, director of Communications and Marketing, Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), only one person had written to complain about Site Finder so far. The VeriSign service affects only dot-net and dot-com URLs and CIRA governs only dot-ca names, but Ahad said Canadians unfamiliar with the industry usually contact the organization when controversial issues are raised.

“”There is nothing like this in the plans for dot-ca,”” Ahad said.

Though VeriSign hopes the additional traffic will create more revenue for its own sites, Jeftovic said it would increase spam because many anti-spam products only filter out messages when the mail server is told the domain name doesn’t exist. Because Site Finder will send bad domains back to VeriSign, the messages might be considered legitimate and get through. Jeftovic said he has already noticed a 150 per cent increase in easyDNS’s mail forwarding volumes the day after Site Finder was launched Sept. 15, though he could not attribute it directly to the service.

“”Usually when our mail forwarding spikes like that it, there’s a reason for it,”” he said.

Some ISPs are trying to get around Site Finder by null-routing IP addresses, which basically blocks access to VeriSign’s site, Jeftovic said.

“”Why do I have to pull my sys admins to get them working on this?”” he said. “”That’s one of the things that always gets me going on the Internet: when somebody does something that creates work for me.””

Ahad suggested some users would not be bothered by Site Finder.

“”The question is what is the need, what is the benefit, and what is the result of this?”” he said. “”If you talk to the average guy on the street, they might like it, because they can just go to one page if they get the name wrong.””

This is not the first time VeriSign has angered the domain name community. Last year it was reprimanded for soliciting new business by sending sign-up forms to potential customers that looked like renewal invoices.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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