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Room for competition trumps VeriSign profit

Profit, while important, cannot be allowed to become the only influencing factor in the development of the Internet. VeriSign's Site Finder demonstrated monopolistic behavior.

In response to the Oct. 6 Perspectives column by Mark McLaughlin, "Innovation and the Internet":

Mark McLaughlin states that Site Finder is about helping people. I won't dispute its convenience, but I'm afraid that it appears to have much more to do with profitability than any altruistic desire to help people.

At face value, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Many organizations have profited from the Internet since its inception. What is wrong, however, is putting profit before all else, riding roughshod over the individual's ability to make their own choices, acting unilaterally, without any form of consultation--and doing so in a way any reasonably skillful person would realize carries a high risk of inconveniencing a significant percentage of the Internet's user base.

That is precisely what VeriSign did with the introduction of Site Finder. I personally found it intrusive and annoying, but that simply underlines my point: Users must have the right to choose.

Further, VeriSign's monopoly position (and the nature of domain name system architecture) effectively ensured that nobody could launch a competing service with anything even approaching the global reach available to them. That is monopolistic behavior of the worst possible kind.

Beyond these issues there lay the technical problems the introduction of wildcards created into the root of the two largest domains. These are numerous and, for the most part, entirely predicable. Any application that relied on the accepted behavior of the DNS system when presented with a name that does not exist would at best exhibit erratic behavior, and at worst, fail completely.

Profit, while important, cannot be allowed to become the only influencing factor in the development of the Internet. A balance must be struck between the need for profitability and the need for a stable, reliable infrastructure that offers the same opportunity to all.

Jim Murray
Glasgow, United Kingdom