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Letter from Internet Society to Paul Twomey

Dr. Paul Twomey
President & CEO
4676 Admiralty Way
Suite 300
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

via email

September 26, 2003

Dear Paul,

On Monday, September 15, VeriSign launched a new service called Site Finder. This service redirects incorrectly typed URL’s to a VeriSign-operated website. Unfortunately, Site Finder was implemented with little or no consultation with the Internet technical community and without a thorough examination of how it might affect the stability of the Internet nor how it might impact other services that depend upon the domain name system. (For details, see a recent commentary by the Internet Architecture Board at (

This violates many of the architectural principles that have so successfully supported the phenomenal growth of the Internet to date. Not to heed these principles or the advice of numerous expert technical Internet groups is extremely irresponsible and is putting the stability of the Internet at considerable risk.

A survey of Internet Society chapters and Internet Society Advisory Council members found strong disapproval for VeriSign's actions and strong support for the statements by:

Further, if Site Finder is not suspended, the Internet Society expects to see an increasing number of efforts to develop and deploy software that will "work around" the Site Finder service so that it does not disrupt applications such as spam filters. Unfortunately, while these work-arounds may allow users to bypass Site Finder, some of them may also impact the stability of the network.

The Internet Society is calling upon VeriSign to voluntarily suspend the Site Finder service until they have adequately addressed the concerns of the Internet technical community.We find their current position untenable; the concerns are too numerous and the implications too grave to be ignored. We support ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce taking appropriate action to ensure that VeriSign withdraws the service until adequate consultations have been taken with the Internet technical community.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynn St. Amour, President/CEO
Internet Society

cc: John Jeffrey, General Counsel, ICANN
Tina Dam, Chief Registry Liaison, ICANN
Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Naming and Directory Services, VeriSign

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."