"Site Finder was not controversial with users, 84 percent of whom said they liked it as a helpful navigation service," said Tom Galvin, VeriSign's vice president of government relations. "We continue to look at ways we can offer the service while addressing the concerns that were raised by a segment of the technical community."
Galvin said that the continued opposition stems from "an ideological belief by a narrow section of the technological community who don't believe you should innovate the core infrastructure of the Internet."
Critics also claim that VeriSign must run the domains as a public trust, not a profit-making opportunity. VeriSign is the sole operator of the dot-com and dot-net registries under a contract with ICANN.
"I don't begrudge them their profit, but someone in an effectively regulated monopoly position shouldn't use their power for their own profit, beyond the terms under which the community gave it to them," said Steven Bellovin, co-director of the Internet Engineering Task Force's Security Area.
Paul Rothstein a law professor at Georgetown University and a paid VeriSign consultant, said that the critics have some legitimate objections but others are motivated by the scientific and technology communities' "bias on policy."
Still, he added, it would be tough for VeriSign to win the public relations war because its opponents are highly regarded technologists.
ICANN will reserve judgment until VeriSign decides to relaunch Site Finder, said General Counsel John Jeffrey. VeriSign assured ICANN that it would give 60 to 90 days' warning to resolve any remaining technological problems, Jeffrey said.
In the meantime, ICANN is waiting for a final report on Site Finder from its Security and Stability Advisory Committee. Committee Chairman Steve Crocker said he doubts that Site Finder can be changed enough that it won't threaten the Internet's underlying infrastructure.
"I thought people were relieved that they took it down and it's hard to believe that there would be any quietness if they brought it back," Crocker said.