VeriSign Now Faces Class Action Suit Over Redirection

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-10-02 Print this article Print

A third lawsuit has been lodged against VeriSign for its SiteFinder redirection service. Now a class-action filing, the suit alleges privacy violations when capturing ID strings in addresses.

The furor over VeriSign Inc.s redirect service for mistyped or unregistered Web domains isnt about to die down as the body overseeing Web addressing begins taking public comments on the issue and a third lawsuit attacks the service. A committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) this week began taking public comments about the effect of VeriSigns SiteFinder service on the Internet in preparation for a public meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. The Security and Stability Advisory Committee, which last week issued an advisory blaming the service for weakening the Internets stability, plans to issue another report to guide ICANN about SiteFinder after examining issues that will be raised at the meeting, ICANN announced.
Also last week, a California litigator filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of both consumers and e-commerce businesses against VeriSign over SiteFinder. Along with being the first class action, the lawsuit also is different from two other suits filed against VeriSign because it also alleges that VeriSign is violating privacy laws, including the federal Electronics Communications Privacy Act, said attorney Ira P. Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm, in San Rafael, Calif. .
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, alleges that VeriSign is capturing and logging URL strings when users are redirected to SiteFinder. Rothken said that those URLs could contain sensitive information such as login and password information. Beyond privacy, the suit alleges that VeriSign is abusing its monopoly power as the sole registry of .com and the .net domains. "Theyre using their monopoly, and theres no way to opt out," Rothken said. VeriSign officials on Thursday did not return a request for comment on the lawsuit or ICANNs call for comment. The Mountain View, Calif., company has held firm in keeping the SiteFinder service active despite calls from ICAAN and others to voluntarily suspend it. Officials have said the company plans to create its own committee of outside experts to recommend any technical changes to the service. The ICANN meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The public can register here. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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