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VeriSign Ignored WHOIS Warnings

September 4, 2002 

VeriSign officials tried to minimize the damage caused by an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) warning yesterday, which gave the .com and .net registry about two weeks to fix 17 violations in the WHOIS database. 

It's a problem that likely wouldn't have come to light in the first place, if VeriSign officials hadn't dismissed ICANN concerns. 

Mary Hewitt, an ICANN spokeserperson, said the notice wouldn't have been publicized in the first place if VeriSign were more cooperative. 

"A couple weeks ago, we gave them a final notice to fix these violations, and their answer was essentially, 'do whatever you want.' " 

The database contains the names and contact information of registered domain owners, and is frequently used by illegal Web site operators to avoid prosecution. Many such operators file contact information under bogus e-mail addresses through anonymous Hotmail or Yahoo! accounts. 

Brian O'Shaunghnessy, a VeriSign spokesperson, told The Washington Post the violations were only a few incidences among millions of registered domain name owners at Network Solutions, the registrar division of VeriSign. 

Ross Rader, director of research and innovation at one of VeriSign's competitors, Tucows, Inc., said the violations are hardly an aberration, and finds VeriSign's attempts to downplay the extent of the problem laughable. 

"I find it almost ridiculous, to be honest," he said. "They do have a serious problem and as far as I can see they've taken no steps to follow these problems. I personally brought this to their attention six months ago and haven't heard back from them yet." 

That pattern of neglect is what brought ICANN down on VeriSign in the first place, according to the announcement yesterday, "based on a broad, longstanding pattern it has exhibited of failing to abide by its agreements to provide complete WHOIS data, and to take steps to correct reported inaccuracies in that data," the statement read. 

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