After spending the last six months front-running internet domains,
Network Solutions has announced that ICANN should prevent people from
front-running internet domains.
In early January, the well-known domain registrar began self-registering
domains that web users show interest in. If you searched the NetSol
website for a given domain without immediately buying, the company
would hold the domain hostage for the next four days. You could still
buy the address from Network Solutions, but you couldn't buy it from
NetSol claims this was an effort to prevent domain front-running, but the Virginia-based company is guilty of extreme hypocrisy.
According to the company, certain people have found a way of
monitoring searches on its site. If you show interest in a domain,
these mystery front runners are waiting to snap it up, NetSol says, and
that self-registering trick prevents them from doing so.
You see, in NetSol's world, front-runners are synonymous with domain
tasters - those net miscreants that register hundreds upon hundreds of
domains just to test their "marketability". And NetSol insists it would
never sell to tasters.
Of course, self-registering domains is also a very good way for NetSol to boost its profits.
Network Solutions can pull this trick because under current ICANN
rules, anyone can return a domain within five days without paying a
penny. But the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is
now considering a non-refundable 20 cent fee for every registration.
This would kill NetSol's front-running scheme. But it would also
kill domain tasting. And if others are front-running - which we highly
doubt - it would kill that too.
Naturally, NetSol continues to say it's merely interested in
preventing anyone else from gaming the system. Yesterday, the company
issued a press release announcing that it fully supports ICANN's 20 cent proposal. And the release specifically badmouthed front-running.
The release also said that Network Solutions continues to practice
its own front running scheme - but it didn't use those words. It called
the scheme "an opt-in domain protection measure that reserves available
domains for four day." Fair enough - except the opt-in bit is new. When
the company began front-running domains, there's was no opt-in, no
opt-out, and no press release telling the world what was going on.
Network Solutions can say whatever it likes. It wanted the extra revenue.
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