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Network Solutions Encourages ICANN to End Front Running for Good

by Shashi Bellamkonda on June 20, 2008

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Next week the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors will consider adopting a 20 cent per-transaction fee that will effectively end the abusive speculating practices of domain tasting, front running and kiting. The fee will only apply when domain names are deleted excessively, a signal that they are being “tasted” by speculators.

We at Network Solutions strongly encourage ICANN to enact this important provision as part of its budget and we have released a statement to that effect today,

Domain “tasting” occurs when parties register a domain name and place pay-per-click ads on the domain’s Web page to determine if the name is worth more than its registration cost; if it is not, the taster simply deletes the name during the allowed five-day grace period and receives a full refund.

In some cases, the names are immediately reregistered and tasted for another five days. Sometimes this process is repeated over and over in a scheme called “domain kiting.” Both of these practices are abusive as they allow tasters to hold, at no cost, millions of domains that are no longer available to the public for registration.

Elimination of tasting and kiting will also curtail the practice of front running. Front running is when someone registers a domain name, for the purpose of tasting, within minutes or hours after someone else has conducted a search for that domain name. Front runners may get access to domain search data through Internet Service Providers, spyware, or registries.

Because of the prevalence of these practices, earlier this year Network Solutions enacted an opt-in domain protection measure for our customers that reserves available domains for four days. If ICANN adopts the anti-tasting provision, Network Solutions will feel safe in discontinuing its service since the non-refundable fee will deflate domain taster’s profits and provide a substantial blow to front runners who use and sell search data for tasting purposes.

While we understand and appreciate certain concerns initially raised about our protection measure and the way it was implemented, we are heartened by the fact that we successfully highlighted the issue and assisted in moving toward the eradication of these negative practices.

You can read our statement in full at our media room.

*Update*

Network Solutions is pleased that ICANN chose to enact the administrative changes that we feel will adequately protect our customers from domain tasting abuse. In fact, we discontinued our Customer Protection Measure on June 26, 2008. You can read ICANN’s new policy here.


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    • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

      First off, your “protection measure” is not “opt-in” in any realistic sense of the term. There’s no dialog or option for you to not steal (yes, that’s right, STEAL) somebody’s domain name for 4 days.

      Your “protection” measure is flat out domain abuse of the worst form. It is far worse than so-called “domain tasting” or kiting.

      If you truly believed in this 20 cent measure by ICANN, you would cease your implementation of this practice immediately. Until you do so, you are worse than the people whom you claim to be against. Frankly, your statements on this matter are entirely hypocritical and worthless.

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    • http://www.business-supply.com Brad

      I'm glad to see that this issue is finally going to be examined. I've seen some of the domain kiting firsthand, and it takes perfectly good domains that people might actually develop into a contributing site and ties it up for a very short time. Then it drops back into the domain pool. It's no wonder I keep seeing some of the same domains continually dropped back into the domain pool over and over again. I'd rather see a system, where you can't return a domain once you purchased it. It's yours until you failed to renew it or let it go. Period.

    • http://www.business-supply.com Brad

      I'm glad to see that this issue is finally going to be examined. I've seen some of the domain kiting firsthand, and it takes perfectly good domains that people might actually develop into a contributing site and ties it up for a very short time. Then it drops back into the domain pool. It's no wonder I keep seeing some of the same domains continually dropped back into the domain pool over and over again. I'd rather see a system, where you can't return a domain once you purchased it. It's yours until you failed to renew it or let it go. Period.

    • http://www.brisbanehousepainter.net/ brisbane house painters

      Thanks for your suggestions Jason. I think we have done many of these things, including statements (which could be made more visible), but the real work comes when real people at Network Solutions, like Shashi and other members of the team, solve real issues. As you mention, is a process and not a destination. I think that this had been the problem in traditional PR, that we have focused too much on the message to be delivered rather than the long-term outcomes that we want – which is a healthier and more solid relationship with the customer. The old fashioned idea of earned brand loyalty.