Folks are afraid of domain name front-running, that is to say that they fear that someone will intercept a whois look-up and register the name ahead of then. In fact, in the pre-ICANN days when the old NetSol wouldn’t require payment up front, it made sense to register a name rather than look it up (and now in the era of domain name tasting the same logic applies).
So today we learn the following. If you go to (the new) NSI’s whois, and type in any available string, for the following four days that string will show up as a name registered to “This name available through NSI.” You (or, as far as I can tell) anyone else over the next four days) can only buy that name through NSI (at it’s regular retail price). During those four days, the name, say, NSIISTEALINGMYNAME.COM will look like this.
So, to the best of my understanding, if you were to search for the name WHICH-REGISTRAR-WILL-SUE-NSI-FIRST.COM now, and it was available, and you closed your browser terminating your search, for the next four days that string will show up as UNAVAILABLE in every other registrar’s whois, and as available in NSI’s whois, and anyone can register the name through NSI for the next four days.
NSI’s spokesperson has responded as follows:
“I’d like to clarify what we are doing. In response to customer concerns about Domain Name Front Running (domains being registered by someone else just after they have conducted a domain name search), we have implemented a security measure to protect our customers. The measure will kick in when a customer searches for an available domain name at our website, but decides not to purchase the name immediately after conducting the search.
After the search ends, we will put the domain name on reserve. During this reservation period, the name is not active and we do not monetize the traffic on these domains. If a customer searches for the domain again during the next 4 days at networksolutions.com, the domain will be available to register. If the domain name is not purchased within 4 days, it will be released back to the registry and will be generally available for registration.
This protection measure provides our customers the opportunity to register domains they have previously searched without the fear that the name will be already taken through Front Running.
You are correct that we are trying to take an arrow out of the quiver of the tasters. As you know, domain tasters are the largest Front Runners. Due to no fault of registrars, Front Runners purchase search data from Internet Service Providers and/or registries and then taste those names. Some folks may not agree with our approach, but we are trying to prevent this malicious activity from impacting our customers.”
Well, I suppose that there is a certain of subset of people who wil search on NSI, not immediately register, and want to register over the subsequent four days. If NSI’s program does in fact protect such people from front-running, then NSI is acknowledging that the connection between the whois searcher and NSI’s server is not secure. It’s worth exploring why.
BUT LET’S NOT FORGET THIS SCENARIO:
Your namesearcher is searching EXAMPLE1 through EXAMPLE50 for you. Your name searcher doesn’t have a credit card and you’re not authorized to spend the money on ten names so you can’t snap up all ten. Someone hear’s a rumor that you’re considering EXAMPLE4 as a name. They check the name and now they know that someone has searched the name on whois within the past 4 days.
So everyone is forced to be a name taster now.