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Re: [alac] Redirection of non-existing domain names, again

  • To: Thomas Roessler <roessler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [alac] Redirection of non-existing domain names, again
  • From: Wendy Seltzer <wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003 07:08:27 -0700

At 03:40 PM 09/15/2003 +0200, Thomas Roessler wrote:
On 2003-09-15 14:53:33 +0200, Roberto Gaetano wrote:
> I agree with Vittorio for a fast ALAC position, rather than
> coordinating with others. In any case, this matter will be
> discussed by the Board and the synthesis will be done there.

If time is as pressing as it appears to be now, I'm not objecting
against issuing a statement quickly.

> Who can point me to the previously agreed document? I don't
> remember having seen it, and therefore suspect it was drafted
> before I joined ALAC.

Here's what we said last time (in June):

ALAC observed with some concern the recent test in which Neulevel resolved unregistered domain names in the .BIZ TLD to a search engine rather than returning the expected "no such domain." The unexpected resolution of unregistered names may confuse Internet users and the programs they use. Inconsistent, undocumented responses do not promote the stability of the Internet. We recognize that this particular instance was a test, but recommend that ICANN consider the technical and policy implications of changing DNS responses before permitting further such tests. We would certainly recommend consultation with relevant technical bodies and standards groups before adopting any policy endorsing resolution of unregistered names.

Perhaps we can add the "stability" concern to Thomas's draft.


I don't think we have a formal statement so far.

Here's a first draft:

        The At-Large Advisory Committee is deeply concerned by
        recent reports that registries might plan to return resource
        records in response to DNS queries for names that have not
        been registered by any registrant.  We understand that the
        records to be returned would then point to a special search
        engine, that would return a list of possible corrected
        domain names to users' web browsers.

        This possible practice raises grave technical concerns, as
        it would de facto remove error diagnostics from the DNS
        protocol, and would replace them by an error handling method
        that is tailored for HTTP, which is just one of the many
        internet protocols that make use of the DNS.  We will leave
        it for others to explain the details of these concerns.

        For registrants of new domain names, implementation of the
        proposed scheme would most likely imply that domain name
        servers' caches all over the net will be poisoned with
        records pointing to a registry-sponsored search engine for a
        certain time after a domain name has been registered.  This
        would have the effect of diverting net users from
        newly-established offers.

        From the individual Internet user's point of view, an
        implementation of these rumored plans would centralize error
        handling at the registry that is rightly done in application
        software run on users' computers.  Users are deprived of the
        opportunity to chose those error handling strategies best
        suited for their needs, by chosing appropriate products
        available on a competitive marketplace. Software makers are
        deprived of the opportunity to compete by developing
        innovative tools that best match the user's needs.

        We would recommend that the board take whatever steps are
        necessary to stop registry operators from implementing such
        a service.

        At the same time, we observe that possible market demand for
        a typo-resolving service at the registry level could easily
        be implemented by creating a service separate from the
        registry's domain name resolution functions.  This service
        could then compete with other offers in the marketplace.  Of
        course, this would also lead to questions concerning the
        equal access to zone files of players possibly competing
        with each other in this market.

Thomas Roessler  <roessler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
At-Large Advisory Committee: http://alac.info/

-- Wendy Seltzer -- wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/seltzer.html Chilling Effects: http://www.chillingeffects.org/

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