Network Solutions sells out.
February 15, 2001 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Network Solutions sells out. The once-monopoly has decided to pool all their domain name registration information and sell it to the spammers of the world. From their marketing website, "Taking advantage of our position as a market leader, we have organized our pool of over 15 million registered domain names into a customer database of over 5 million unique customers. Our data service offers access to the key decision-makers behind millions of leading Web businesses."

True, there is a privacy policy, and you can try and protect yourself following their instructions, but it would seem that once the cat's out of the bag... And, what's to keep someone from purchasing the database of email addresses, fax numbers, telephone numbers, and addresses and selling them off to someone else?
posted by warhol (35 comments total)
I cannot even begin to count the ways in which that sucks.
posted by mimi at 8:24 AM on February 15, 2001

I can't imagine how bad you have to run a company to get Network Solutions to where it is today. I can't get my domains out of their database quick enough.
posted by jdiaz at 8:39 AM on February 15, 2001

I, too, am thoroughly dismayed by this. I just hope that their e-mail address for removal requests doesn't get so swamped that they lose mine.

All I can think of is: thanks, NSI, for punishing me for not registering with fake contact information. I guess it's time for a little "update."
posted by DaShiv at 8:56 AM on February 15, 2001

This is truly a load. Not only is their database security suspect to the point where people can a do rip off domains, there are so many other bad things about NSI. They don't release expired names but "auction" them off, and now they're selling my info.

Someone tell me how to get the hell out while I still can!

posted by Maxor at 9:11 AM on February 15, 2001

it's things like this that make me question whether the assigning of url's should be privatized or regulated via the gov't.
posted by bliss322 at 9:17 AM on February 15, 2001

Dotster has a transfer special going on now, and I'm testing it out by moving one domain at NSI, then I'll move the last of my domains off their systems (including metafilter). I hear it's painless and they do all the legwork for you.

Anyone ever have any problems with a dotster transfer?
posted by mathowie at 9:19 AM on February 15, 2001

i used dotster to register my domain. painless, trouble-free, and cheap. highly recommended.
posted by acridrabbit at 9:57 AM on February 15, 2001

Dotster says,
"When you register with us, your request is immediately sent to the NSI shared registry. " I believe most registrars work this way. So is there no escape? At least moving the domain would deprive them of their revenue stream. I firmly believe the studid (NSI) should die.

posted by Maxor at 10:00 AM on February 15, 2001

I recently moved from Netsol to It was insanely easy. Took me all of five minutes, and all the behind-the-scenes administrative stuff was taken care of within a day or two. sent me nice little e-mail updates and everything.

I was already a customer there, so that may have helped things along. It may not be quite so easy for a new user to do such things. But yeah, is highly recommended.
posted by danwalker at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2001

You already have zero privacy. Get over it. :) (see 2 links ahead...)
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:20 AM on February 15, 2001

fucking fuck fuck.

I'm too beaten down with bad news and work and evil to even properly express my dismay, about this and many things.

Fucking fuck fuck will have to do.
posted by Hackworth at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2001


One of my domain names is registered to an email address that no longer exists and an IRL address that has been out of date for over three years. This has always been a source of frustration, as it's impossible for me to authenticate with NSI to make any changes. Suddenly I'm *happy* about this...

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:33 AM on February 15, 2001

click here and enter your domain names in the body to be removed from NSI's bulk mailing list.
posted by Zebulun at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2001 is an excellent registrar, moving a domain from NSI to them only took 24 hours, and I just had to fill out forms on their website. They're cheap (12 euros, about $10) and their ToS is quite decent.

Check out the reviews of the registrars at Domain Buyers Guide before switiching to a new registrar.
posted by riffola at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2001

Is the privacy policy of any of these other companies (dotster,, etc.) any better than NetSol?
posted by leo at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2001

I've tried dotster, it's ok,, didn't like it. They're all so similar I just go with the cheapest. I wouldn't pay over 10 bucks.
posted by gtr at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2001

how sweet of them to share.

we use gandi...
posted by macewan at 12:12 PM on February 15, 2001

If they're going to be selling off my information, and I'm paying anybody, then I'll choose the domain service that gives me some decent bells and whistles. Why does NSI insist on that old e-mail based technology which takes days to make any domain changes when will make changes on the fly...and be my DNS if I wish. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
posted by jdiaz at 12:17 PM on February 15, 2001

In answer to warhol's original question (from NetSol's privacy policy):

Qualified persons may also access such data on a bulk basis provided they agree, among other things, not to use the data to enable or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited commercial advertising or solicitations via email; or (ii) sell or redistribute the data to third parties.

In other words, only if the spa^H^H^H entrepeneur who wishes to take advantage of this scam^H^H^H^H business opportunity lies^H^H^H^H promises not to use it for spam^H^H^H^H sending you scams^H^H^H^H^H ways to *MAKE*MO^H^H^H^H^H^H^H yourself a better person.

There are lots of uses for a large list of email addresses besides sending email to lots of email addresses. Duh.
posted by swell at 12:54 PM on February 15, 2001

I'm in the process of using directnic to move an old domain from NSI to them, it's been painless so far (especially since I've already got a domain registered with them) but I'll update this thread when I know more. Datapoints and all that.

The domain itself's had nothing on it for a good year now, and since it's almost expired I figured what the hell, at worst I'm out $15 bucks, at best I get the thing for another year to see if I can't figure out what to do with it.

If I'd heard about this yesterday I wouldn't have bothered, I'd stick to ccTLDs.
posted by cCranium at 1:02 PM on February 15, 2001

In answer to the "is there no escape?" query, at this point, NSI remains the central registry for .com/.net/.org domains (.edu too, but that's not covered by the same rules). They are, however, just one of a couple of dozen accredited registrars, meaning the group that the customer deals with, and those registrars also generally act as resellers of their registration services for a small fee, which is how -- for example -- your web hosting company can "register" you.

ICANN did propose some privacy safeguards but the word "privacy" does not appear in the present registrar accreditation agreeement.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 PM on February 15, 2001

I've used directnic for over a year and have no problem with them. Registerfly though is cheaper and more powerful.
posted by gtr at 1:43 PM on February 15, 2001

Ok, so if my domain is registered through, who is a CORE register, is it in NSI's database? I can't figure that part out.
posted by crawl at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2001

I've been getting junk snail-mail through my domain registrations on Network Solutions for years. The first domains I registered, my former boss was the administrative contact, and since then I have at least 10 Pre-Approved Credit Card applications to my home mail in his name.
posted by punkrockrat at 3:05 PM on February 15, 2001

so here's what I see in the privacy policy:

send an email to with the words 'remove bulk access' in the subject line to protect yourself from bulk email.

send an email to with the words 'remove domain' in the subject line to protect yourself from email from their carefully selected business partners.

okay, now here's where I get tripped up.
To remove information about you from dotcomdirectory, just click on the "remove my listing" link at the bottom of the relevant listing(s) for instructions.

I don't see such a link. I *do* see a link on the page that says "maps and directions" though.


does anyone else see this mythical "remove my listing" link?

here's a sample URL:



posted by rebeccablood at 4:37 PM on February 15, 2001

it's things like this that make me question whether the assigning of url's should be privatized or regulated via the gov't.

Unless I'm mistaken, NetSol was set up by some quasi-governmental group and given monopoly "powers". So let's not indict the marketplace for something the government did.

There's plenty other stuff to indict them on. ;-p

I also reccomend Gandi because they specifically state that you are the owner of the domain. As to their connection with NetSol, its beyond me.

posted by locombia at 8:22 PM on February 15, 2001

For those who weren't paying attention to this sort of thing until recently: originally domain registration was handled by the National Science Foundation, who had responsibility for the backbone on the pre-commercial internet. When NSF was phased out by Congress (which, by the way, was what Al Gore meant by "I helped create the internet"), Network Solutions was created from the NSF office that had been doing registrations. When the world began to take note, and the NetSol monopoly on com/net/org began to be a problem, there were many different proposals to open up the system. What happened was that the White House got other countries to agree to set up ICANN to supervise the mess, and gave ICANN authority over NetSol. Technically, up to this point, the sole authority over NetSol was the IETF, a cooperative group to whom NetSol felt no obligation. The first real thing ICANN did was to create the shared registration system SRS, which opened up the field to the other registrars. ICANN has not moved to open the DNS system; at present NetSol still runs the com/net/org DNS root nameservers, and runs the SRS for ICANN. This is not the same as being a NetSol customer. Every com/net/org domain is part of the root nameservers, because DNS is hierarchical. In fact, whomever you create your com/net/org domain with, a fee is paid to NetSol. But that function is separate from the registrar business, or is supposed to be, at any rate.
posted by dhartung at 11:12 PM on February 15, 2001

I also reccomend Gandi because they specifically state that you are the owner of the domain.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean. There are many, many sites that will register a name for you and state you as the owner.
posted by gtr at 6:30 AM on February 16, 2001

And there are just as many who aren't so clear on that point, gtr. Gandi is fabulous in that they spell that clause out so plainly in their service agreement that there isn't any way to question what they mean.

I believe that it is the forementioned Domain Buyers Guide that has a chart indicating which registrars are explicit about the domain ownership residing wth the registrant and those who muddle the issue, like NetSol, which apparently thinks that we're just leasing, or something.
posted by Dreama at 6:35 AM on February 16, 2001

update: Directnic transferred my domain sometime between yesterday morning and this morning. I submitted the request wednesday night, and after a year with the domain lost, I have it back. You do require the e-mail address it's registered to to be active though.
posted by cCranium at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2001

Dreama~I've just never had that kind of trouble, and I've had domains with 5 different sites. All of them stated the registrant was the owner, and a who is lookup also showed I was the owner.

Gandi is no different than any other site I have used. But if others have had trouble then I understand the caution.

And cCranium, they have to have at least one way to get in touch with you or if there is a dispute you could lose it without even knowing it.
posted by gtr at 8:03 AM on February 16, 2001

I also use Gandi - I have six domains registered there, having just moved the last over from some other crappy registrar - and have found them to be cheap, quick, efficient, and a general pleasure to use.

On the "ownership" tip - some registrars have recently revised their user agreements to allow them to revoke domain names for little or no cause - effectively, they retain the ownership of the domain, and simply "lease" it out. I recall a comment from some corporate flunky along the lines of "You don't own a domain name any more than you own a phone number."

Gandi makes no bones about it. You own your domain, period, and they just provide the service of registering it for you. Phone number, my fat pasty ass.

posted by mikewas at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2001

Will I be the owner of the domain I have purchased?
Yes you are the owner of the domain you have bought provided you pay for it every year.

Straight from gandi. Also straight from 3 other registrars I have used.

Is gandi is the best registrar around? I have no idea, and frankly don't care. They're more expensive than others and offer almost no features other than registering your domain. But there is nothing special about that line. If anyone wants to believe there is, or that gandi has some special user agreement that can't be fine elsewhere, good for you, but it simply isn't true.
posted by gtr at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2001

What are the other three registrars, gtr?

I mean that's great news and all but the last time I checked, which was several months ago, Gandi had the best TOS. I think Joker was right up there, too.

You have stated more than once that there are others with the same TOS so I would have thought you would have named them by now...
posted by locombia at 3:22 AM on February 18, 2001

I'm no great Gandi super-partisan or anything, but since you have made the challenge...

From the Domain Name Buyers' Guide

Price Ranking: Gandi #1

Legal Ranking: Gandi #1

Overall Ranking: Gandi #3

The main drawbacks, as I see it, are (1) that it sometimes takes them awhile to register a name that i have ordered and paid for; (2) the website is not the easiest to use.
posted by locombia at 3:36 AM on February 18, 2001

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