The ALAC welcomes ICANN's decision to remind Verisign of its
obligations to run its registries for the public good, and
VeriSign's compliance with ICANN's demand to shut down SiteFinder.
SiteFinder's suspension was necessary not only because it broke
hundreds of specific applications, and because it was forced on
Internet users around the globe without any advance consultation or
notice: SiteFinder also needed to be stopped because it broke
the end-to-end architecture of the Internet to give one company
monopolistic control of a resource in the center. It's not a
contest between SiteFinder's search page and MSN's, but between
giving VeriSign sole, centralized control of the error-handling
for incorrect URLs and distributing that choice among users and
applications at the edge of the network. The question is whether
users can choose what services fit their needs best, or whether
Verisign can take that choice away from users, forcing them to do
what's best for Verisign's commercial benefit.
Sitefinder affects not only the web, but most other applications
running on the net. The question here is whether the network is
kept open for new protocols and applications, or whether it's left
to Verisign to decide which applications the Internet supports well.
Keeping SiteFinder out of the center leaves the greatest flexibility
in the network for those who want to innovate by adding new
protocols, services, and features at the ends.
ICANN has called for "further evaluation and study" of the impact of
The proper question for VeriSign to consider is whether it will
reimplement its advertiser-supported search as an option at the edge
of the network -- where users can elect or decline to use it at
their will -- or not at all.