Heat still on VeriSign's SiteFinder; state government push for 'Net sales taxes; Sophos buys ActiveState; Symantec to buy PowerQuest; Boeing to lease satellite for in-flight 'Net service; Amazon might be about to challenge Google.VeriSign, under fire for launching its SiteFinder URL-redirection service earlier this month, is creating a technical review panel of Internet experts to evaluate the service. SiteFinder redirects unknown URLs ending in .com or .net to VeriSign's site-searching engine.\u00a0The service caused an uproar in the Internet community, leading the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to ask VeriSign to voluntarily suspend the service. While VeriSign is creating the SiteFinder panel in reaction to complaints from ICANN and others, it is pleased with the site's performance, says spokesman Tom Galvin. "We're pretty gratified with the level of use," Galvin says, adding that SiteFinder has had about 100 million visitors during its first 10 days, and of them about 20 million visitors have used the site's tools.Meanwhile a pair of companies sued VeriSign over SiteFinder. Domain name registry Go Daddy Software and search-engine company Popular Enterprises claimed VeriSign misused its position as registrar to launch SiteFinder for its own gain.Legislation intended to ban taxes unique to the Internet could end up exempting many telecommunications services from state and local taxes, costing states billions of dollars a year, according to a group representing 45 state governments. The Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives Sept. 17, was amended to define Internet access. The bill's authors intend to exempt Internet access from taxes, as well as telecom services offered over the Internet, which would include the growing trend of offering voice telephone services through packet switching technology, according to the Multistate Tax Commission.The Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which has not yet passed the Senate, would permanently replace a moratorium on Internet-only taxes that has been in place since 1998. The MTC released a study last week that said the bill could cause state and local governments to collectively lose between $4 billion and $8.75 billion a year by 2006, rather than the $500 million projected when the bill was originally introduced.Anti-virus vendor Sophos last week acquired e-mail content-filtering software vendor ActiveState for $23 million. Sophos indicated it made the acquisition to play a role in the anti-spam and e-mail content-filtering market. Among its future plans, Sophos says it intends to develop ActiveState's PureMessage product, which runs on Unix, for the Windows platform.Symantec announced last week that it will acquire storage-management vendor PowerQuest for $150 million to improve its server and desktop management and protection software. Symantec plans to integrate PowerQuest's disk imaging, provisioning and disaster-recovery technologies into its software for managing and protecting servers, desktop and laptop computers. PowerQuest also provides data migration and life cycle management software, which Symantec says it will add to its portfolio.Boeing is about to lease space on a satellite above the Atlantic Ocean, filling a coverage gap in its Connexion by Boeing in-flight Internet service. The new leasing agreement is for two transponders on the Intelsat 907 satellite, which is stationed above the Atlantic Ocean at 27.5 degrees west, the company says. The Ku-band spot-beam coverage provided by the transponders encompasses Northern and Central Europe, Iceland and the eastern part of Greenland, and will be used by Connexion to service aircraft flying between Europe and North America. The Connexion service, which has yet to be commercially launched, offers a broadband Internet connection to passengers on aircraft on which the system has been installed. Transmission speeds vary with conditions, but maximum capacity is 20M bit\/sec downstream to the aircraft and 1M bit\/sec upstream from the aircraft.Amazon.com is reportedly working to develop a Web search technology that will help it compete against Google and Yahoo when it comes to directing consumers to merchandise online. The Internet retail giant has set up a subsidiary called A9 in northern California to develop the search technology and is recruiting a host of software engineers from Silicon Valley, according to a report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal. In addition to creating and using the search service, Amazon plans to market the A9 technology to other sites. Amazon declined to confirm or deny the report.