Network Solutions Suddenly Opposed To Domain Hijacking

Hypocrisy alert: Domain name registrar Network Solutions, which earlier this year adopted the questionable practice of registering on its own behalf any domain name searches done on its site, today urged the industry to abandon the practice.

Here’s how the scam works: You go to Network Solutions (or virtually any of their competitors) and do a search for a domain name you’d like to buy. If you don’t buy the domain right then, they register the domain anyway, meaning if you try to buy it somewhere else you can’t. You are then forced to buy the domain at Network Solutions.

At any given time, tens of thousands of domains are locked up by registrars in this way. In February, Network Solutions was named in a class action lawsuit over the practice.

Now Network Solutions is now calling the practice “abusive” and proposing a fee to registrars designed to destroy the economic incentive to engage in the practice. Now that everyone’s doing this, it’s far less lucrative for them to continue. Thus the 180 degree change in attitude.

“If ICANN [the quasi-governmental organization that regulates the domain industry] adopts the anti-tasting provision, Network Solutions will feel safe in discontinuing its service,” they said.

Update: Network Solutions says I got at least part of the story wrong, since they’ve been talking about this issue for three years. My response: Then why engage in the practice? And will they now voluntarily stop?