VeriSign agrees to suspend search service that tripped up junk e-mail filters

Monday, October 6th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Internet's key traffic cop agreed under pressure Friday to suspend its new online search service, which has been blamed for such side effects as disabling spam filters and networked printers.

Verisign said it would shut down its money-making Site Finder service. Verisign also manages ``.com'' and ``.net'' addresses, as well as the Internet's central directory computers.

The decision came hours after the Internet's main oversight body _ the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers _ threatened legal action against VeriSign unless it shut down Site Finder by Saturday evening.

``We will accede to the request while we explore all of our options,'' VeriSign spokesman Tom Galvin said Friday. VeriSign will meet the deadline after the oversight group rejected the company's request for a few days' extension, Galvin said.

Since Sept. 15, the company has been directing erroneous e-mail and Internet site requests to the search site instead of sending back a ``no such name'' message as it had done before.

VeriSign officials have described the service as a way to help lost Web surfers.

But the service caused spam filters that had depended on the ``no such name'' message to stop working properly, along with some networked printers.

Also, business rivals were upset that VeriSign was making money off its monopoly on the ``.com'' and ``.net'' directories. At least three federal lawsuits have been filed.

Paul Twomey, ICANN's chief executive, said in a letter earlier Friday to VeriSign that the new service has had ``a substantial adverse effect ... on the stability of the Internet.''