Network Solutions under fire for domain registration practice

The Internet registrar is being criticized for its practice of putting holds on domain names that searchers on its site may not look for but not immediately register, although it since has backed down.

The company was removing the name from the pool for about four days. During that period, the customer could come back to register their name with Network Solutions for $35 per year, but it would be unavailable from other registrars.

Since the company's rates for domain registration are in many cases considerably higher than many of its competitors, consumers would be essentially locked in, at least in the short term, to Network Solution's price.

While the registrar says there is a completely sanguine reason for it, ICANN is not buying it. Network Solutions says they are trying to prevent squatters from coming in and snagging domains before they are purchased by legitimate users.

ICANN is already investigating the practice, and compared it with a stockbroker selling shares ahead of an actual trade, as somewhat of a price protection measure. However, the practice is not illegal under current rules.

Reaction from the blogosphere wasn't necessarily as vanilla. Chris Williams on called the company a "bunch of thieving bastards."

"This is seriously dirty behaviour...don't be surprised if you hear the words 'Class Action' in the near future," he wrote.

After being criticized for its practices, the company has backed down some. It now would only place under construction pages on domains it reserves, and the reserving mechanism would only be triggered when a domain is search for through its site and not its WHOIS mechanism.

However, the process still seems to remain mostly intact. In any case, Network Solutions has said it would continue to adjust the process in the future, although that's not exactly a reversal of policy.

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