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RE: Does VeriSign's SiteFinder service violate the ECPA?
From: Christopher Wagner <chrisw () pacaids com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 12:29:43 -0700

Your reply is well thought-out and logical, and most certainly all admins
shouldn't be responsible for making sure typo'd URLs don't get intercepted
by their webservers.

The point I think Mr. Smith is trying to make is that Verisign seems to
*want* to intercept this private information and use it to their own
commercial advantage.  Respectable sysadmins do not wish to receive form
data intended for other sites.

But really, all webmasters *should* be responsible in making sure the forms
on their site do POST to the correct URL.

Now from what I understand (DISCLAIMER: I am *NOT* a lawyer nor am I
educated in law) Verisign's Sitefinder does not violate the ECPA by merely
accepting the form data since the data was misdirected anyway.  However,
it's what Verisign *does* with that data that may violate the ECPA.  If
they're moving that data to Omniture (or any other org/corp), then it could
very well be a violation not only of the ECPA but of their privacy policy.

- Christopher Wagner
chrisw () pacaids com

-----Original Message-----
From: N407ER [mailto:n407er () myrealbox com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 7:43 AM
To: Richard M. Smith
Subject: Re: Does VeriSign's SiteFinder service violate the ECPA?

Richard M. Smith wrote:

Here's a question for the lawyers.  In certain situations, does the
VeriSign SiteFinder service violate the Electronic Communications
Privacy Act (AKA, ECPA)?

Here's the actual text of the ECPA:

With my packet sniffer, I noticed that the VeriSign SiteFinder Web
server happily accepts POST form data which is intended for another Web
server.  This situation will occur if the domain name is misspelled in
the action URL of a form.

Without SiteFinder in the picture, the HTTP POST operation is never done
since the DNS lookup fails.

By this logic, all webservers which unintentionally accept traffic 
without somehow verifying that a typo did not take place violate the 
ECPA. Thats ridiculous. Do you really want a precedent where, if someone 
  accidentally POSTs bank information to your site instead of the URL 
they meant to type, you are somehow liable? If I accidentally call you 
instead of my friend and tell you all sorts of juicy gossip, is it 
really your fault?

I'm bothered by the VeriSign thing, too. But you've been posting a lot 
of stuff about how it breaks certain services, breaks certain mail 
clients, and may be illegal. What it does to mail clients and services 
is annoying, though easily fixed. But you should hardly wish for it to 
be deemed illegal. That's not the sort of precedent I want to worry about.

Ta for now.

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