So what does today’s vote from ICANN mean to the regular person? Well, if Network Solutions honors its promise, it means the next time you search for an available domain through Network Solutions, they won’t immediately snatch it up and force you to register it through them at an increased fee. In theory, it may also mean that a lot of domains that were held in eternal limbo by domain tasters and front runners may soon be available, although we can’t be sure of this until it actually happens. And on a more idealistic note, that Saturday Night Live commercial—the one where the bank has the domain name www.clownpenis.fart—is now in the realm of the possible. Hooray!
This Thursday, ICANN will vote on next fiscal year’s budget, and included in that is a provision to charge 20 cents per registration for domain names that are deleted during the grace period. There will still be a refundable grace period, but if the “level of deletions exceeds 10 percent of a registrar’s net new registrations in that month,” the fee kicks in—in effect, making front running uneconomical. Network Solutions is urging ICANN to approve it, and has said that it will stop pre-registering domains if the provision is approved.
Earlier this year we noted that Network Solutions is “front running” domain names—that is, automatically purchasing domain names that customers search for and holding them for four days before releasing them again. During that period, the only way customers can buy the domain names is through Network Solutions for 3 to 5 times more than what you can pay elsewhere. Now “search engine expert” Chris McElroy has filed suit against them, named ICANN as a defendant, and is seeking class action status.