Is Network Solutions Snatching Domain Names?

Numerous individuals have discovered that when they search for a domain name at Network Solutions, the domain register is automatically registering the name for Network Solutions. 

Numerous reports confirm that Network Solutions, the well-known domain registry company, is automatically registering domain names when individuals search for a potential name using its site's search tools.

This was first reported in a forum message in DomainState, a news and discussion site for Internet site owners. In the message, a domain owner and developer who goes by the handle "Stratagenix" reported, "Network Solutions has instituted a four-day lock on all domain names searched on their site. They are effectively using phishing techniques to hijack or steal domain names and forcing domain name registrants to register their names at Network Solutions. The standard domain name registration fee at Network Solutions is $34.99-significantly higher than the leading alternatives. I was forced to register a domain name with them today or chance losing it to another registrant."

In a follow-up story at DomainNameNews, a reporter confirmed that after using the popular whois tool on the Network Solution site to search for a domain name, they then found that the site had been registered to a private registrant, but that the domain name was still available from Network Solutions. At other domain registry sites, however, such as Dotster and GoDaddy, the domain name was unavailable.

eWEEK was also able to determine that simply searching for a domain name with Network Solutions' Whois utility was sufficient for Network Solutions to automatically register the name. Moments after searching for the domain name: sjvn01.com, the next whois search revealed the following information:

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net for detailed information.

Domain Name: SJVN01.COM

Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.

Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com

Referral URL: http://www.networksolutions.com

Name Server: NS1.RESERVEDDOMAINNAME.COM

Name Server: NS2.RESERVEDDOMAINNAME.COM

Status: ok

Updated Date: 09-jan-2008

Creation Date: 09-jan-2008

Expiration Date: 09-jan-2009

As a result, the domain name was no longer available for purchase from other domain registry companies. Given this information, it would appear that we would have no choice but to buy the domain name from Network Solutions at their price if we wanted the site before Jan. 9, 2009.

Network Solutions, the only domain registry company from 1993 to 1999 for the .com, .net and .org sites, has not replied yet for requests for comments on this policy. According to a report in Circle Hub, an Internet infrastructure community site, Jonathon Nevett, Network Solutions' vice president of Policy, Network Solutions is protecting its customers from "Domain Name Front Running [domains being registered by someone else just after they have conducted a domain name search]. … The measure will kick in when a customer searches for an available domain name at our Web site, but decides not to purchase the name immediately after conducting the search."

Thus, "After the search ends, we will put the domain name on reserve. During this reservation period, the name is not active and we do not monetize the traffic on these domains. If a customer searches for the domain again during the next four days at networksolutions.com, the domain will be available to register. If the domain name is not purchased within four days, it will be released back to the registry and will be generally available for registration."

Numerous Slashdot and Circle ID community members are treating this explanation with disdain. eWEEK's own Larry Seltzer, in a Circle ID note, declared, "My word, that's on the short list for most self-serving, hypocritical excuse I've heard from a business. We're front-running in order to save you from the front-runners."

Other individuals have started automated scripts to flood Network Solutions with bogus domain name searches in an impromptu DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. Others are protesting Network Solutions new policy to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the oversight organization for top-level domain name providers. At this time, ICANN has not replied to requests for its stand on Network Solutions' policies.