RE: Does VeriSign's SiteFinder service violate the ECPA?

From: Christopher Wagner (
Date: 09/24/03

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    To: 'N407ER' <>, "'Richard M. Smith'" <>
    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

    -----Original Message-----
    From: N407ER []
    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:
    > Hi,
    > 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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