Feeds

Network Solutions sued for price fixing

ICANN named too

Security for virtualized datacentres

Network Solutions is being sued for front-running internet domains.

In early January, the well-known domain registrar started self-registering domains that customers search for but don't immediately buy. The company insists it's merely trying to crackdown on so-called "domain front running," but at least one customer is clever enough to realize this argument makes no sense.

Today, domain hunter Chris McElory chucked a federal class action lawsuit at Network Solutions, insisting that the Comcast of domain registrars uses "fraudulent and deceptive business practices [to] effectively trap consumers into paying its grossly inflated domain name registrations fees".

In the words of Brian Kabateck, one of McElory's lawyers, Network Solutions is guilty of "a very sophisticated form of price fixing". We take issue with the "very sophisticated" bit.

If you visit the Network Solutions website and show interest in a domain without actually putting your money down, the company will quickly register the address under its own name. For the next four days, you can still purchase the address from Network Solutions, but you can't purchase it from any other registrar.

Back in January, for instance, one loyal Reg reader searched the site for "network-solutions-registers-all-names-searched.com," and minutes later, he discovered that "network-solutions-registers-all-names-searched" belonged to none other than Network Solutions. Meanwhile, other readers have pulled this trick with domain names that describe the company's behavior in very different terms.

Though it won't speak to us, Networks Solutions tells others that by self-registering domains, it's protecting customers from cybersquatters on the lookout for highly marketable urls. "In response to customer concerns about Domain Name Front Running (domains being registered by someone else just after they have conducted a domain name search)," the company has said, "we have implemented a security measure to protect our customers."

So, Network Solutions is front running domains in an effort to prevent other outfits from front running. And judging from a recent ICANN study, those other outfits don't exist.

And even if they do exist, Network Solutions' little trick doesn't prevent them from front-running. It merely forces them to spend their dirty dollars with Network Solutions. Network Solutions claims that it would never sell domains to front runners, but we question its ability to identify front runners. After all, it has failed to identify itself.

The company claims that these mysterious front runners are also "domain tasters," those clever characters that temporarily register thousands of domains just to test their "marketability." And it wants the world to know that if ICANN would just prevent people from returning addresses within five days for a full refund, it will quit self-registering domains.

But this is merely stating the obvious. If ICANN removes the five-day full refund, Network Solutions couldn't self register domains without paying good money for them. And it won't pay good money for them.

As Chris McElory's suit says, Network Solutions' self-registering trick is merely an effort to make some extra dough. If customers search on a name but don't immediately buy, his complaint says, they "cannot register their domain name through any of Network Solutions' less expensive competitors because their chosen domain is unavailable through any other service - which (unbeknownst to the customer) is now held exclusively by Network Solutions - who is now offering to sell the domain to anyone willing to pay its grossly inflated registration fee."

The suit even goes so far as to say that Network Solutions isn't the only guilty party. ICANN is also named. "ICANN rules tacitly say that Network Solutions practice is acceptable," Kabateck told us. "We aren't seeking damages against ICANN. We just want a declaration from the court that its allowing this to go on."

What does Kabateck think of Network Solutions' claim that it's merely trying to destroy domain tasters? "Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't get," he says. And we can assure you he's not stupid. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.