After furor, Network Solutions stands by name policy

Network Solutions is standing by its controversial policy of automatically registering some domain names that are the subject of searches on the company’s Web site.

After testing the concept in December, the domain name registration company quietly began doing this over the past weekend. Potential customers who used the company’s “Find a domain” search engine would suddenly find the domain names they had been searching for were registered to Network Solutions itself, making them temporarily unable to purchase the domain from another provider.

Industry watchers were quick to blast the new policy, saying that it either forced searchers to become Network Solutions customers, or exposed their ideas to scammers, who would be able to snatch up the domains the second they were released. “It is a deplorable action that Network Solutions would announce potential domain names to the entire world,” wrote Jay Westerdal, on the DomainTools blog.

If cutting down on domain name scamming was the goal, “someone should be fired over the implementation,” wrote Andrew Allemann, a blogger with Domain Name Wire.

On Wednesday, Network Solutions CEO Champ Mitchell said that his company planned to change the site’s design to ensure that users are notified of this policy. The company is also looking into adding a feature that would make give users the option of keeping their searches un-registered, although that would require cooperation from domain name registries, he said.

Ironically, Mitchell said that Network Solutions came up with the search registration process in an effort to cut down on the scamming that has plagued the industry over the past two years. “We are not trying to make a bunch of money off of this,” he said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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