Internet service provider EarthLink is drawing fire from customers after launching a test program in which it redirects nonexistent domains to a company-provided error page containing suggestions, a search box and advertisements.
Typically, if a domain name is not functional, the Web browser displays an error saying it cannot find the page. But with billions of domains being visited each day, resulting in potentially hundreds of millions of typos, those errors could be quite lucrative to businesses such as EarthLink.
Microsoft by default redirects DNS errors in Internet Explorer to an error page located on MSN Search, which encourages users to search the Web for what they are looking for. That page, however, does not contain an advertisement and can be disabled in IE.
VeriSign, which manages the DNS records for all .com and .net domains, saw a similar opportunity in 2003. The company began redirecting all nonexistent domains to what it called "Site Finder," which displayed a page containing links to possible intended destinations and a search box. VeriSign said 900 million DNS queries each day are for nonexistent domains. For more info…EarthLink Criticized for DNS Redirects, DNS