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 anyone else.
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. ®