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The Internet Security

ICANN to Add Anti Front Running Charge? 63

shashib writes to tell us that ICANN is considering a new $0.20 per-transaction fee for large numbers of domain registrations in order to curtail domain tasting abuse. Network Solutions, previously accused of front-running, is offering their support of the new approach and promises to remove the security measures that caused such a commotion back in January. "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."
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ICANN to Add Anti Front Running Charge?

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  • by the4thdimension ( 1151939 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:44PM (#23878679) Homepage
    Probably won't do much to deflate the use of this by registrar's that are in a perfect position to do this. They need to lock down about 50 domains without a sale before they lose money... that's quite a few domains. If they get a sale in there somewhere, it was worth it on some level.

    NTM, they will likely just find some way to push this cost off onto the customer as a "service fee" or the like.
    • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gewalt ( 1200451 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:33PM (#23879439)
      Market-Speak-Translation: Spammers make us rich, and we are not willing to take measures that could potentially damage this lucrative relationship. But we are willing to pretend.
    • Ditto. Spammers and other botnet masters will use stolen credit card information to buy these 20 cent domain taste by the millions. Domain tasting is sort of like sample tasting at Costco Wholesale, some people abuse this to a point where they have their entire meal using just these samples.

    • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:39PM (#23881193)

      this is not a new fee! ICANN is just making ITS share used to fund DNS and such non-refundable. Regular users won't see a thing change. That means any registar that wants it's names on root DNS will have to pay the money. They already pay it, they just won't get it back in 3 days if you don't want the domain.

      This keeps domain registars honest, because in hundreds of thousands of domains they'll have to collect this and not let it slide because technically THEY owe ICANN the money.

      Second, in large volume this will add enough "treading water" that spammers and such will stop the practice. Either they will keep the names, or pay the money. Right now they are cycling thru names every 3 days so they don't have to pay. Paying 20 cents every time they switch will cost more than registering in just a few months.

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:45PM (#23878701)

    Why only for "large numbers of domain registrations"?

    For the average person checking a domain, 20 cents is nothing. I'd be happy to pay that to put a temporary "hold" on a domain I was considering.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Because the fee for that transaction would be much larger than the bill itself, making it something they'd lose money on.

      And no matter what altruistic reasons they have stated, the real reason for wanting to implement this is to make money.

      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        I have no problem with them making money as long as they're providing an honest service.

        So what is the charge for them? $0.25? $0.50? $1.00? I'd pay it.

        • That's not even the issue.
          What was going on was you would do a whois at, and the domain you checked would be found to be not taken, meaning you can register it now if you want. And likely if you did register it right then you wouldn't notice anything amiss, the registration would go through and you would then own that domain.
          But if you didn't take it right then and there and pay your bill networksolutions would register it to themselves for the 5 free days, and you could *only* re
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sorry for slightly offtopic but this needs to be said. (BTW, reason for AC is not this being offtopic but in me forgetting password and having used guerrillamail in registering...)

        no matter what altruistic reasons they have stated, the real reason for wanting to implement this is to make money.

        Why do people keep saying this? Not just about ICANN but every time something happens.

        Ofcourse they (big organizations) want to make money. However, we shouldn't care about that. We should care about this: They are doing something to stop domain tasting, which is a big problem. If the company does something that is good for all o

        • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:45PM (#23881237)

          ICANN is not raising any new fees. They are just making the cut they already get (yep, only 20 cents per domain!) non refundable for registration. Sure it will make them gobs of money off spammers and such... until either they start actually paying for names to keep, or they give up and register less names. Remember there are MILLIONS of domain names registered on 3-day free passes. Spammers and such just create a new account online and pass the domain along for another 3 days.

          Regular people that register real domains to use won't pay 2 dimes more! If you're wishy-washy, and change your mind a lot you might pay a few bucks turning names back in... but the spammer problem is so bad now you can't "guess" names, if you don't register spammers take them. Choose wisely.

      • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:22PM (#23879311) Journal

        This has 0 to do with money.

        ICANN makes plenty and does just fine.

        If you want to buy a domain you can do that the same as always. Want, .com, etc, go buy it and pay for it. No surcharge.

        However, want to prevent someone from using that domain infinitely for free? Not anymore. This is what it prevents.

        It wasn't that someone could hold a domain for a week while they decide to get it that was the issue. It was that they would continually do this between shell companies for a lifetime, until someone pays for it, at no charge to the abuser holding the domain name. Meaning you could automate enough to hold every domain in the world if you had the resources.

        To cost them money means its not free, and you need to sell a much higher amount of domains held. The average consumer paying 20 cents is nothing. The average squatter paying 40 bucks for 200 domains, is more in line with the "hey, quit jacking the market" idea.

        Also, had this not occurred, what makes you think another company wouldn't do the same?

        Stating that this is to make money is obviously not even remotely understanding the issue at hand.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ehrichweiss ( 706417 )
          That is quite a bit of insight into how it works. I knew about all the rest but hadn't yet put how the $0.20 would be useful.
        • You've also not mentioned that Network Solutions, and companies like them, would automatically 'taste' an inactive domain you did a DNS lookup for. This cost them next to nothing, but the very act of looking up a domain would give it to Network Solutions.

          This is like going to a rummage sale and having someone else buy everything in their truck that you look at, and give it back free to the rummage sale manager if you didn't want it. The $0.20/per domain precisely stops this behavior.

        • by solprovider ( 628033 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:13PM (#23881717) Homepage

          Your post was good, but failed to mention how unending domain-tasting works. You also mention squatters; this charge will not affect "squatters" since squatters buy domains.

          The current system allows a domain to be used (tasted) for up to 5 days without charge. The purpose of this policy was to allow free reversal of mistaken registrations. ICANN currently charges $0.20 per domain registration (changed in 2007 from $0.25.) The policy change is the charge will not be refunded if the domain is released within five days.

          Current Problem #1: Somebody noticed the ability to check expired domains for traffic that could become profitable by advertising on previously used domains. If enough (maybe one visit?) traffic reaches a domain in the first five days, the domain is bought in the expectation that the advertising revenue from the domain will more than offset the cost of buying the domain. This is one variant of the "squatter". [Other variants are buying domains that may become valuable e.g. names of potential celebrities, and buying domains similar to popular domains e.g.]

          Current Problem #2: A few companies doing #1 can keep a domain from ever returning to the public. A company tastes all expiring domains. If the first company releases a domain at five days, another company tastes the repeatedly-expired domain. The domain would eventually be released to the public if the companies excluded recently tasted domains, but no reason existed to encourage this practice since no cost is incurred for tasting a domain once or multiple times. Currently, most expired ".com" domains enter this "constantly tasted, never bought" state.

          [From memory of previously research on this issue] Three companies in Florida at least connected by sharing legal representation are "tasting" 20 million domains. A domain can pass amongst these companies indefinitely without incurring any costs.

          The new policy is designed to stop this practice. Indefinitely tasting those 20 million domains would incur the $0.20 charge every 5 days: $4 million every 5 days = $292 million per year. The cost to a registrar for buying a domain is ~$7. With the new charge, buying a domain for one year has the same cost as tasting a domain for only half of a year.

          One of two possible outcomes can be expected:
          1. The cost of buying the domains is more than the domain-tasting companies are willing to pay so the domains are released to the public.
          2. The domains generate more than $7 per year so the domain-tasting companies buy the domains and become domain-squatting companies. Tasting a domain will cost $14 per year. Buying a domain costs $7 per year and simplifies the system by removing the need to change DNS settings every 5 days (although that system must have been automated long ago.)

          Every article about the policy change assumes the first outcome -- more than 20 million domains will become available during the week after this policy is effected. I do not know if the profitability of these companies depends on free domain-tasting. The companies may still be profitable with a new $140 million per year expense -- owning 20 million domains at $7 each per year. If so, nothing would change except ICANN "earns" more (and those three companies could merge since the benefit of being separate entities would be lost.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by InlawBiker ( 1124825 )

      Because the average end-user doesn't have the ability to domain-taste. Only weasels like NetSol do.

      So it seems like ICANN is saying, "we can't stop you from domain-tasting, but we can charge you for when you do it." It "just so happens" that their method pretty is self-serving.

      I suppose the massive number of domain registrations done by netsol has an impact on ICANN so they can justify the fee, and it also helps us poor users who just want our domain names. And God knows our legislators won't help. So

  • by kiehlster ( 844523 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:49PM (#23878761) Homepage
    I just want to see those spammy squatters get a punch in the face one of these days so I can help a friend buy his domain back. There should be a fee imposed on perpetually parked domains. The whole practice of buying expired domains and then holding them ransom for years is so irritating, almost as much as front-running.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

      I just want to see those spammy squatters get a punch in the face one of these days so I can help a friend buy his domain back.

      One question: what's a squatter? I have a few domains with no website but with active mail service. Some of these are in the form of $common_city_name$, so others might incorrectly think that I'm holding their domains hostage.

      • by maxume ( 22995 )

        Do you have hundreds of domains that have nothing but auto-generated advertising?

        Would a good faith assumption about the first 20 (or 50) domains registered to an individual or business work for you?

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I guess it's kind of like pornography; you know it when you see it. I think going through all the customers of this service [] would be a good start.

      • Are you actually operating a $common_business_category business which operates primarily in, is based in, or offers something semi-exclusive to $common_city_name? If you are, you're not a squatter. If not, you warrant a closer look by the squat police (who currently have nothing to do but patrol my gym and make it very difficult to blast my quads and hammies).

        • Yep, I actually own (or am good friends with people who own) such businesses. Every domain in my control actually refers to a legitimate business. My question was mostly rhetorical, because I've heard people on Slashdot who were bothered by web-less domains, and wanted to remind people that such things aren't terribly uncommon.

          Are the squat police responsible for traps?

      • A squatter, by example:

        I used to own [], a site on which I ran a PHPNuke site that catered to the local music scene of Fredericksburg, VA. There was nothing of value there; I ran it out of pocket as a community service. No ads, just a message board, a calendar, and an announcement "news" thing on the front page (it was just a CMS). It had a pretty vibrant community.

        Then, I forgot to register it one year. As soon as it went out of registration, it was purchased by someone else - some du

      • I have a few domains with no website but with active mail service. Some of these are in the form of $common_city_name$, so others might incorrectly think that I'm holding their domains hostage.
        Toss up some dumb old webmail interface on the domains, and your intent will become clearer to random visitors.
      • Unless somebody else had those domains first, I don't care what you do with them. You're only squatting if there was a legitimate website at that domain before the registration expired and you picked it up solely for the purpose of ransoming it back to the original owner.

        For example, take some poor sucker who forgot to update their credit card's expiration date at interland and lost a domain they were using for their business. Now, the punk mofo that snapped it up the instant it went unregistered wants five

    • by ymail ( 1311455 )
      Domains were free in 1995 back when Network Solutions had sole monopoly and official NIC handles were 4 digits long (your first and last initials and a number less than 100).

      And with lame delegation rules, you better have had access to address space to immediately put the domain name to functional use - with working reverse DNS and a running server of some sort when it resolved.
    • this makes them cost 20 cents per 3 days versus $6 for a whole year. That won't make it stop, but it will pinch registars that are allowing people to float the money on "credit" for the 3 days when registers have to start paying out.. that's who's gonna hurt here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      My domain as you can see here [] isn't a website, I use it for email and a variety of other purpose's that aren't all http oriented.

      Who the hell are you to say whether or not I'm using my domain?

      Why shouldn't I be allowed to reserve a name I may use in the future?

      • Well, there's no issue if you're actually using or have plans for the domain, but when it's obvious that a domain is parked with a "For Sale by Squatter" sign and advertising then I have an issue. That is what happened to a friend of mine who wasn't thinking when it expired. Just goes to show that if you want to continue using a domain in the future then you have to keep paying for it until you're 100% done with it.
  • Domain tasting will not go away, because it is cheaper to taste domain by paying 20c instead of full registration price. ICANN will earn 20c for each domain tasted, which translates to tens of millions of dollars of additional profit per year for ICANN.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by wattrlz ( 1162603 )

      Domain tasting will not go away, because it is cheaper to taste domain by paying 20c instead of full registration price. ICANN will earn 20c for each domain tasted, which translates to tens of millions of dollars of additional profit per year for ICANN.

      ... Assuming ICANN can somehow charge these 20 cent fees without having to pay credit card processing fees.

      • They already charge every Registrar once a year for all billable transactions (add, renew or transfer domain - 20c each), these might soon include domain tasting, i.e. deleting domain within "Add grace period".
        • Bingo! There's no more grace period for REGISTARS, this has NOTHING to do with domain BUYERS. That's ALL ICANN is doing, taking away the "refund" registars get for tasters. ICANN will be getting some fat checks soon when every registration nets 20 cents that doesn't go back.

    • LOL (Score:5, Funny)

      by protolith ( 619345 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:06PM (#23879069)
      ICANN has domane tastin fee?
    • it is cheaper to taste domain by paying 20c instead of full registration price.
      It prevents perpetual tasting. 20c * 365/5 = 14,6 USD.
  • by leto ( 8058 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:55PM (#23878879) Homepage

    The only reason Network Solutions will stop domain tasting ("we will protect you for money, or else we will have your knee cap") is because ICANN is putting a stop to it. They never "protected" customers, they reamed in the profits of domain tasting.

    and as long as people still pay $35/year to them for domains because they don't know the old monopoly has died, NetSol will play games like these to cash in on that. Just like they sent former customers those fake "renewal" invoices to try and fraud people into going back to them.

  • Fuck NS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by revmoo ( 652952 ) <slashdot.meep@ws> on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:13PM (#23879157) Homepage Journal

    I think what bothered me the most about Network Solutions "protecting me" from domain tasters is that they were actually participating in the very behavior they were claiming to protect users from. Network Solutions are a bunch of assholes.

    They actually fed me some wrong information on a domain the other day (they read back the right spelling but punched in the wrong spelling(on two separate phone calls)) leading me on a wild goose chase and wasting my entire day. So then I decided to transfer the domain to a competant registrar and they sent me an email saying that the domain was not eligible for transfer because of "fraudulent activity on the account."

    Well, isn't the entire domain transfer process designed to protect against domain slamming already? And it works just fine if you ask me. Network Solutions are just trying to keep customers through whichever means necessary.

    So instead of calling us and saying "Hey, we think someone is trying to steal your domain," they sent an automated email and then refused to respond to me (I sent 7 emails spanning two days and never got a single response). If they were truly concerned about fraud wouldn't they have picked up the phone to confirm the transfer rather than just blocking it outright?

    Finally, the only way we were actually able to get the transfer to go through was by calling an Exec, whose number I found after some extensive research. What about the poor customers who can't find the magic "executive hotline?"

    I reiterate my previous point; fuck Network Solutions. I will suggest to every client I have in the future to transfer their domains away from NS for their shady, shady business practices.

    • In a related sham perpetrated by Network solutions they'll let you register your Domain Name for 100 years, that's right 100 years. Despite the fact that you can only register with the registry for 10 years. That's all caught with the little asterisk

      * 20 and 100 Year Domain Registration Service - If the domain name registry of a particular third level domain does not provide for an initial registration term of 20 or 100 years, then Network Solutions will register your domain name on your behalf for the maximum term available at the respective registry, and as long as your domain name is registered with us, we will continue to add additional years to your registration on an annual basis up to the total of 20 or 100 years, depending upon the term your select from the date of purchase. This offer is non-transferable and non-refundable.

      What a load of crap, so I pay $1,000 for a domain name for 100 years, and you register it for 10, and renew the last year for the next 90? Gee, thanks!

  • Eliminate Tasting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jon159785 ( 1311451 )
    Get rid of this tasting altogether or at least put severe limits on it. If I go to a bakery I may get to taste one or two cakes, but if I try to taste 100, I get kicked out. The same should apply here too.
  • I doubt this will do much to help; however, a better approach might be the one used by the electric company here. When you sign up for electricity, there is a $200 "deposit" charge on your first bill. If you pay all your bills on time, the $200 are refunded as a credit to your statement after six months. Similarly, each domain registration might require payment of, say, $100, as a deposit. If you keep the domain for six months, you get the $100 back. In the meantime, ICANN can use the interest from all thes
  • I still don't understand:

    Why ICANN no haz .XXX?

    • by socsoc ( 1116769 )
      Because the porn industry has connections in the right places. A .xxx TLD would enable parents, corporations and governments to quickly and easily disable access to those sites. The porn industry would rather that we rely upon OpenDNS, SquidGuard and DansGuardian (among others). This requires a certain level of network experience that most people don't have. Blocking .xxx is something that all consumer routers could easily implement (including a time schedule for folks that still wanted access when the k
      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        Wouldn't .xxx just be another extension and nothing more?

        I think the problem is that established site's might have someone else take their name.

  • Domain Tasting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wmbetts ( 1306001 )
    I worked for a company that did domain tasting on a very large scale. They made a killing off of it. Basically you throw everything at the wall and sees what sticks. They'd register $1mil worth of domains then at set intervals refund them. For example after 12 hours the ones that got x uniques or made x dollars they keep for another x amount of hours. At exactly 4.5 days they'd refund the ones that didn't make enough money then rinse, wash, and repeat. The trademarks they'd manage to snag that made money

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.