VeriSign's CEO hits back at critics

Summary:Stratton Sclavos explains why VeriSign undertook its domain-name redirection service, and tells of his fears for the security of the Internet's root servers

After a couple of weeks on the hot seat, VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos is turning up the fire on his company's severest critics.

His company is the registrar for the main database that keeps track of who owns which names in the .com and .net top-level domains.

VeriSign announced on Thursday that venture capital firm Pivotal Private Equity agreed to acquire its Network Solutions domain registration business for roughly $100m. The deal will enable VeriSign to retain control over the database that directs people to .com and .net addresses. Sclavos spoke with CNET News.com before the deal.

Earlier this month, VeriSign temporarily suspended a new service that redirected misspelled or unassigned .com domain names to a search page it managed.

Up until then, requests for nonexistent or inactive domain names triggered error messages. Opponents contended that VeriSign's addition of a "wild card" feature interfered with spam filters and mail servers. VeriSign subsequently ordered a temporary suspension of the service.

But the controversy attending the dispute over the Site Finder service revealed a deeper split between technologists who helped guide the Internet in its infancy and the businesspersons who later realised the platform's commercial possibilities. After spending much of the last couple of weeks explaining his company's position, Sclavos believes that this cultural divide is a big reason why VeriSign has not received a terribly sympathetic hearing.

He casts the issue within the context of a larger struggle, saying the outcome could determine the pace of future innovation on the Internet. With security attacks becoming increasingly common, Sclavos also says it's time to transfer the responsibility for operating the root servers from volunteers to the commercial sector. He discussed these issues in more depth during a recent CNET News.com roundtable discussion with reporters and editors.

Topics: Security

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