ICANN and Google thwart domain-name exploiters

The two organizations have separately introduced measures to stop the exploitation of domain names during the five-day grace period after registration.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has formally announced a proposal to make "domain tasting" a thing of the past by changing the way it charges for domain names.

Domain tasting is the use of the "add grace period"--a five-day period following registration where the domain name can be deleted at no cost to the registrar--to see how profitable a domain name is.

The grace period was introduced so that registrars would not have to pay if the wrong domain name was registered due to a spelling or typing error during the process. The grace period was part of the .com, .net, .org, .info, .name, .pro and .biz registry contracts.

However, the five-day freebie has often led to registered names being used as a "parking page" containing pay-per-click advertising relevant to the registered domain name or associated search terms, according to by the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Ninety-five percent of all .com and .net names deleted--45,450,897 in total--were accounted for by a mere 10 domain tasters, according to ICANN.

Tasting creates the potential for Internet users to be harmed by spamming, malware and fraud, and for companies to lose Web traffic and brand reputation, according to a GNSO report last year.

ICANN said it will now block free tasting. "Charging the ICANN fee as soon as a domain name is registered would close the loophole used by tasters to test a domain name's profitability for free," ICANN said.

"We think it is a viable solution the Internet community has been seeking," Dr Paul Twomey, ICANN's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

ICANN's proposal will also put a stop to another form of domain-name exploitation, called "domain kiting", where domain names are registered for five days, let loose and then registered again in a cycle which allows the registering party to avoid paying registration fees.

It is this practice which a new Google initiative--announced before ICANN's proposal to stop domain tasting--hopes to root out by blocking kiting domains from using its AdSense advertisements.

The initiative involves a new system which can detect if a domain is constantly being taken up and released, and disallow Google advertisements from appearing on the domain.

"We have long discouraged domain kiting as a practice," the company said in a statement. "We believe that this policy will have a positive impact for users and domain purchasers across the Web."


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