This page is for the convenience of students in Prof. Tim Richardson's e-commerce classes.
It contains a collection of info and links regarding all the marketing issues relevant to domain names.

This page last updated 2010 Feb 19
 
 
Domain Names
marketing issues witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamesmktg.htm
registration isses witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamesregister.htm
scams and problems witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamesscams.htm
scams, phishing witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamephishing.htm
domain name hacking witiger.com/ecommerce/hackingexample.htm
domain disputes witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamedisputes.htm
Verisgn problems  witiger.com/ecommerce/domainnamephishing-verisign.htm
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Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"

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POINTS
Andrew L. in BCS 555 in Sept 2003 provided info on this story continuing to explain what Verisign has done re: domain names.

WTGR

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"Verisign's tampering shows high cost of apathy"
By Michael Geist Sept 2003

It used to be that when you misspelled a domain name - nothing happened, the page did not appear. 

Now,,, Verisign is using software that responds even if there is no site. Is this a problem?.. Yes.

Prof. Geist explains in the context of the topic of "Internet governance"

"Last Monday, [2003 Sept 15] at 10:45 a.m., the danger of this laissez faire approach became evident to millions of Internet users. At that moment, VeriSign, the U.S. company that enjoys a monopoly over dot-com and dot-net domain name registration (there are competing registrars who sell domains to the public but they must all buy their domains from VeriSign), flicked a switch and launched a new service called Site Finder.

Site Finder is designed to deal with a fairly common occurrence for many Internet users the entry of an incorrect domain name, either because the domain is no longer active or because of a typo. While users are accustomed to receiving an error message when this occurs, VeriSign's Site Finder service now replaces the error page with a VeriSign page that displays advertising and a search tool.

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Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"

For VeriSign, this new innovation is potentially very lucrative. It estimates that dot-com and dot-net domains are mistyped 20 million times per day, resulting in an additional 20 million visitors to VeriSign's Web site daily and millions of dollars in additional revenue from advertising and click-through searches.

The service has also had an immediate negative impact on fight against spam. Many ISPs use anti-spam tools that rely on the ability to discern between domains that exist and those that do not. Since Site Finder ensures that all domains resolve, even where they do not exist, that spam- fighting mechanism has been rendered inoperable for the moment (VeriSign pledged to develop a fix late last week).

Domain name owners also feel cheated by the new system. As one domain name owner noted, many would not have opted for a dot-com domain years ago had they known that a system would later be established that would take a user elsewhere if they mistakenly enter a typo on the way to their site.

Hardest hit, however, are individual Internet users. Twenty million times a day Internet users who inadvertently enter a typo now find themselves subjected to a lengthy VeriSign terms of use contract found on the Site Finder page. That contract includes provisions relating to user privacy that specify that the company has the right to collect statistics information such as the user's IP address, page views, from which domains users come, and the browser settings installed on users' computers. In fact, Verisign now places a data identifying "cookie" on every user's computer that further assists with data analysis of users' activities.

Given the continuing concern over the Site Finder service, it is likely that technical fixes will be developed to override VeriSign's approach. It is also possible that VeriSign will drop its new service, either voluntarily, by order of a court (it was hit with a $100 million lawsuit over the service by a leading search engine late last week) or under compulsion by ICANN. 

Regardless of the eventual outcome, Internet users will look back on the day that Internet governance mattered and remember that they didn't."
 

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Professor Geist teaches law and internet "stuff" at the University of Ottawa. Prof. Geist also writes widely on internet legal issues, including many articles in The Toronto Star.

WTGR

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permission to quote provided by Joanne MacDonald, TORSTAR Syndicate Sales by email April 2005 and by Prof. Michael Geist in various emails in 2002-2004. Prof. Geist, of the University of Ottawa, is the author of Internet Law in Canada. Copies of emails kept on file in the permissions binder
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Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"
 
 
 
 
 

Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"

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POINTS
So, worrying that Verisign was going to go ahead with sitefinder, we check to see how it works.
www.witiger.com is a real address, so, when you type it in, the site comes up, but,,
www.wittiger.com is an incorrect address, and when we typed this in to our browser Sept 25th, this is what we found below, the page from Verisign.

WTGR

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so people looking for witiger.com can be accidentally directed to
  • www.wittinger.com - which is a web page for a German beer company
  • www.wittig.com/ -a computer consulting company
  • www.wittygirl.com/ - a  17 yr old catholic boarding school girl's private page

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Problems
and
Scams

Verisign
"Sitefinder"
 

an update

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Verisign's sitefinder did not last long. Greg Jones in BCS 555 (Mon Section) noted a news story that Verisign was shut down by ICANN.

WTGR

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. Elizabeth Oldson, writing for the New York Times, in a story carried by The Toronto Star  2003 Oct 6
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"Verisign Inc., which assigns and administers Web  addresses ending in .com and .net, has agreed to suspend its controversial service that redirects misspelled Web queries to its own page, bowing to pressure from an Internet oversight organization and the computing public.  The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, had asked Verisign to halt its Site Finder service a few days after it started on Sept. 15, [2003] but Verisign had declined initially. On Friday, [2003 Oct 3] Paul Twomey, the ICANN president, released a letter written to  Verisign's executive vice-president, Russell Lewis, demanding that Verisign suspend the Site Finder service by 6 p.m. Saturday because of "numerous  indications that these unannounced changes have had very significant impacts on a wide range of Internet users and applications" and had affected the Internet's  stability. "Failure to comply with this demand by that time will leave ICANN no choice to   seek promptly to enforce Verisign's contractual obligations," Twomey wrote.   Penalties could include imposing fines of up to $100,000 (U.S.), or removing  Verisign's right to operate as the biggest provider of domain names. In response, Verisign agreed to temporarily suspend the service."

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Problems
and
Scams

Fake
Renewal
Notices
 
 
 
 
 

 

It is not just small-time crooks that have been scamming people over domain names, it is also big companies that have been dishonest - who can ya trust!!
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"VeriSign slapped with lawsuit by competition after clients receive misleading renewal notices"
by Geoffrey Downey May 2002

Downey explains "Domain name registrar VeriSign Inc. was slapped with a lawsuit on May 13 [2002] in a Maryland court for its marketing tactics, and there could be more legal wrangling in its future.  In the suit, Baltimore-based BulkRegister.com Inc. accused VeriSign of two counts of false advertising and interference with contractual relations and economic opportunity."

"The conflict surrounds a recent marketing campaign. BulkRegister claims VeriSign Inc. sent thousands of "domain  name expiration" notices to BulkRegister  customers. According to a copy of the  notice, recipients need to send US$29 per domain name and "Reply by: May 15, 2002." According to U.S. law, mail solicitations must be clearly  marked as such.  "This is a solicitation, there's nothing on the document that says it's a solicitation, and customers' names are being transferred as a result of  filling out this thing," says Tom D'Alleva, BulkRegister vice-president of  marketing."
 

KEY POINTS This action of VeriSign is, in the opinion of some people, dishonest because it can be construed that VeriSign preys on people's fears and it catches people who cannot remember who they actually registered their domain with 2 or 3 years ago.
check  www.pageweb.com/domain-scams
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Downey writes "The tactics haven't been reserved to American businesses, according to Ross Rader, director of research and innovation at Tucows Inc., a Toronto-based Internet channel management company. He says he has a stack of 200 notices in a file sent to him by customers contacted by VeriSign which are causing a great deal of confusion."
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On this page there are several quotes from ecommercetimes.com. Permission was given by Richard Kern, Associate Publisher of the E-Commerce Times,  in an email to Prof. Richardson 2004 Dec 10th, a hard copy of the email is kep on file in Richardson's permissions binder.
 
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