Verisign’s “IDNs”: It’s about contracts, not about RFCs.

Stuart Lynn has sent a letter to the IAB asking for technical advice on Verisign’s latest changes to the .com/.net registry. Apparently, this step was taken in response to an e-mail from Paul Hoffman (known from the IETF’s IDN working group) in wh…

Stuart Lynn has sent a letter to the IAB asking for technical advice on Verisign’s latest changes to the .com/.net registry. Apparently, this step was taken in response to an e-mail from Paul Hoffman (known from the IETF’s IDN working group) in which Paul points out a number of reasons why Verisign’s latest additions are basically crap. He suggests that ICANN should demand that Verisign “stop giving incorrect answers to any query in .com and .net.” That brings up the real question: What’s an incorrect answer?

That’s not a technical question: Technically, returning these A records is just fine, although it will confuse the hell out of users, and although the system may have been implemented poorly. The technical standards tell Verisign how to “say” something, not what to “say.”

Instead, we are dealing with a contractual question: What records may the registry return in response to queries which don’t correspond to registered domain names?

What makes this one even more interesting is the analogy to .museum’s search service: Go to http://air.museum, for instance, and you’ll be redirected to an index of third level domains. Basically, Verisign is just delivering a poor imitation of this service.