VeriSign muzzled by FTC gag order

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: The Federal Trade Commission has told VeriSign to avoid commenting on the FTC's investigation of the company's marketing.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: The Federal Trade Commission has told VeriSign to avoid commenting on the FTC's investigation of the company's marketing.

The FTC has launched an investigation in light of lawsuits targeting the web-address registrar. The competitor's lawsuits focus on VeriSign's marketing practices, specifically transferring web addresses and deleting domain names, and investigating whether information on competitors' customers - to whom VeriSign sent direct mail - was obtained illegally.

News of the investigation was splashed across newspapers and business websites Wednesday morning, but the FTC put VeriSign in a PR bind, leaving the company with no options when it came to damage control.

"The FTC has asked us not to respond to inquiries about their investigation, said VeriSign spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy, adding that the company has no PR or media relations plan in place to deal with inquiries, as the FTC has asked VeriSign not to comment. VeriSign has said it is cooperating with the investigation.

"As a matter of policy, we don't like to settle cases or exchange information in the public domain. But we don't require that companies not disclose information, said Derick Rill, deputy director of public affairs for the FTC. He added that he couldn't find who at the FTC told VeriSign not to comment on the investigation.

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