LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Sydney, 4 September 2007: An intellectual property expert with national law firm Hunt & Hunt says the investigation by the leading global regulating body for the Internet, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), into the
practice of ‘domain tasting’ will be welcomed by Australian businesses.
Domain tasting is the controversial process by which users register domain names to test their effectiveness in collecting additional traffic and then cancel registration before fees become due.
The call for the investigation follows the discovery that less than one per cent of .org domain names end up being registered.
“For business owners, this is a much-needed initiative,” said Catherine Logan, who is a partner with Hunt & Hunt.
“People who want to use the Internet to promote their business will welcome the increase in available names. Domain tasting has been unnecessarily tying up millions of available domain names and adversely impacting the average domain name registrant,” she said.
Ms Logan said VeriSign, the company which controls the .com and .net generic top level domains, was set to increase registry fees for these domains next month, to accommodate the upgrade to registration systems required to cope with the flood of automated applications by speculators.
“Clearly the operational load on the registry systems caused by domain tasting is reason for concern,” she said, citing VeriSign’s own figures suggesting that in the last
seven years, domain name inquiries have risen from 1 billion to 30 billion per day.
Ms Logan said that while the lack of domain name choice has become increasingly frustrating for business, criminal practices such as phishing and pharming – activities commonly linked to domain tasting – have posed an even greater concern for businesses operating in an online environment.
According to Ms Logan, anonymous parties frequently register domains as replica sites in an effort to obtain confidential information from unaware customers. Through this practice, users are able to temporarily set up web pages that look similar to authentic sites, and extract private data without risk of identification as they are yet to
register the domain name.
“This loophole obviously presents an unacceptable risk to both businesses and their clients. There are also other unwanted commercial side effects of domain tasting, such as consumer confusion and increased costs to regular businesses that have to register names defensively and allocate resources to monitoring the situation,” Ms Logan said.
She said the ICANN investigation will look for ways to counteract such unnecessary
costs for businesses as a result of this process.
“This investigation is welcomed, particularly at a time when ICANN is proposing to allow the introduction of new generic top level domains,” she said.