Network Solutions holding domains to ransom

by on Jan.09, 2008, under Uncategorized

Here’s a story I just posted at work about Network Solutions holding domains to ransom:

It appears that Network Solutions are immediately registering all domains searched for. In what I consider a highly shady move, Network Solutions have started immediately registering domain names when customers search for them via the Network Solutions website, and holding them for 4 days – effectively meaning that if you checked whether it was available using their domain search tools, you now have no choice but to buy it from them, locking out all other registrars.

I tested it by searching for which was previously untaken, and within minutes, they’d registered it – see a whois lookup for confirmation.

The net community has naturally responded strongly to this, with calls to boycott Network Solutions.

I’m shocked that they could have morals as low as this, no matter what excuses they try to offer they’re holding their customers to ransom, pure and simple.

It appears that Network Solutions are using the same loophole as "domain tasting" (the practice of registrants using the five-day “grace period” at the beginning of a domain registration for ICANN-regulated generic top-level domains to test the marketability of a domain name).

(They also promptly snapped up when I searched for it, but I figured I probably shouldn’t include that in the post on my company’s blog – might look a touch unprofessional :) )

9 Comments for this entry

  • bigpresh

    They do it not only for domains checked via their website, but also for ones checked on their whois server.

    I verified with:

    whois -h

    Sure enough, a few minutes later, they’d registered it.

  • bigpresh

    And the folks at Slashdot have got them to register lots of controversial domains, including,, (nice spelling though), and even stuff that might get them in trouble for registering domains containing trademarks like

    I’d love to know how many domains they’ve snapped up since everyone reading the Slashdot article about this got involved.

    It does seem as though they’ve stopped snaffling domains I’ve searched for though… either they’ll only do so many per IP, or they’ve disabled it now.

  • bigpresh

    Oh, and if ICANN aren’t annoyed enough by these tactics, I’m sure they won’t like the fact that Network Solutions are the proud owners of!

  • Sam Kington

    They’ll only own these domains for 4 days, though.

  • bigpresh


    Of course – but that’s 4 days too long, and, as you commented on the other post, when the domain drops there’s a good chance that the bottom-feeders of the domain market will immediately snap it up, so if the original user who searched for it waits for NS to drop it, they’ll probably not be able to register it anyway.

    ICANN recently appealed for reports of domain front-running, so I sent them a report of NS’s behaviour last night – I doubt they’ll have the cojones to do anything, but still.

  • Malcolm Smith

    Yes, I saw the /. article, and particularly enjoyed this comment:

    (Interestingly, and perhaps as a reaction to the above post(s), they’ve changed their domain-squatting page that used to feature a smug blond-haired blue-eyed guy to a simple “website under construction page”.)

    I tried it myself, and then at this month’s HertsLUG meeting gave a demonstration with a randomly-picked domain shouted from the floor:

    This was originally freely available (although someone had beaten us to the and .de variants ;-) But after about a minute, they’d sat on it.

    Their CEO (who apparently likes goatse) gave a response claiming that they were protecting their customers. Yeah right, without telling anyone.

    I doubt there is much that can be done. It doesn’t cost them anything, so they will keep doing it. Hopefully their company’s reputation is now worth 0.02c.

    I think we need a separate interweb for such lamers.

  • jon

    wow! great article. thanks for sharing.

  • Derek

    Very informative article, thanks

  • Tai Slim

    International community such as WWW Org and ICANN should do something to control such registration scams. Such thing make internet ugly. Network Solution’s wrong practice must be abandoned.

    Recently I got an email from a chinese registrar the some company has applied for a simillar domain name which resembles my business. They enlisted several simillar domains which I should register. I suppose this is also a scam to register more domains.

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