All your domains are belong to us

Looking for some unrelated information on domain registration today, I came across this foul little nugget of data on yet another Network Solutions scam. For such a large (and old) internet company, you’d think they would be above these kinds of underhanded tactics, but you’d be wrong.

From PC World:

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.

My first job in technology was at a local Phoenix ISP, in 1997, doing phone based tech support for their dialup internet customers. Shortly after I started working there, I started getting calls from customers who had recieved a letter in the mail from Network Solutions stating that their domain was about to expire, and that they needed to fill out the enclosed form and mail it back to ensure continued registration.

Turns out, the letter was a domain transfer authorization, and the customers who had filled it out and mailed it to Network Solutions were then put in the unfortunate position of no longer owning their domain name, as they had signed a form authorizing transfer of ownership to Network Solutions.

The internet community was dumbfounded, Network Solutions was taken to court, and I believe there was a settlement of some sort. As for me, I advised people to never register domains with Network Solutions, since they were obviously a bunch of glorified towing yard operators, holding domain names hostage in exchange in order to extort money from hapless business owners.

Some things never change.

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