Network Solutions In Another Controversy

Parks Paid Links On Unused Subdomains

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Network Solutions really didn’t need any more public relations disasters after the controversy of automatically registering searched-for domains and "protecting" them for a $35 fee. Though this new controversy may not be quite the hyperbole it’s made out to be in some places, it does come with some potentially serious issues.

Network Solutions LogoNetwork Solutions Logo
(Photo Credit: Network Solutions)

TechCrunch reported NetSol was "hijacking" unassigned subdomains and slapping spammy paid links on them. The proprietor of GotGame.com was surprised to learn that app.gotgame.com (no longer in service since news broke) had links to online poker sites, courtesy of NetSol. It was later reported that GoDaddy has a similar unused subdomain practice.

Commentators at the TechCrunch thread sang a rousing march of class action lawsuit potentiality. NetSol appeared to be riding the cash cow under webmaster radar. Hang on a second and I’ll find another metaphor to end this paragraph with: Over 300,000 known subdomains were revealed to have more spam than a grocery store shelf.

I guess, technically, that’s not a metaphor.

ArsTechnica, though, took the time to dig into NetSol’s 59,000-word Service Agreement (yick) and shovel out a load of legalese that says NetSol customers may have indeed given permission to have any inactive webpage on their site used as a spam shelf.

Having the language buried in a EULA agreement doesn’t necessarily let NetSol off the hook for shady behavior, though. Back when Eliot Spitzer was still on top of the world, he didn’t have any qualms about suing and fining companies for being sneaky like that. The Electronic Frontier Foundation hasn’t been too friendly toward unfair EULAs, either.

At least NetSol allows customers to opt out of the program in their account settings. Opt-out policies themselves are controversial—just ask Google and Facebook.

What’s not clear yet, though, is whether the links placed on the websites pass PageRank, thus creating a Google penalty bull’s eye, amid a number of other SEO concerns. Network Solutions did not get back with me yet about whether the links are no follow or whether there was any way the link pages could affect a website’s search ranking.

Network Solutions In Another Controversy
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  • http://www.netndx.com sean

    I think this applies only to domains "hosted" with network solutions….one more reason to not do business with them.



    • Guest

      Not true – they did this to me on a new domain name

      • http://www.netndx.com Sean

        really? I went to techcrunch to try figure that out and they said hosted domains I thought… Can someone confirm exactly when this happens? hosted or registrar domains or both??



        • http://www.selectfix.com Guest

          Any cPanel control panel has a default subdomain mail.anydomain.ext

          and if user is not using it – it is filled with Ads…


  • Guest

    They were notified of the problem and have fixed it. This is why you are no longer seeing the problem – to be able to figure it out.

  • http://www.petfoodstory.com Dog Food Man

    Money for nothin, chicks for free!

  • http://www.webterritory.net/ Guest

    This is just dirty dirty pool, just what kind of new low will some companies be willing to go for that extra buck? Creating sub-domains off of your domain to host spam links is just wrong! When you register a domain you expect full rights and control of it, and trust that your domain provider is making sure of that.

    After reading this, I was outraged that a company would even do something like that to their customer’s domains. That would be like you driving your leased company vehicle (with your business image on it) all over the city and unknown to you somebody hitched a trailer to it with an explicit ad for sex toys or maybe your competitor’s ads on it. Then to find out that the dealer you leased the car from had that as a hidden clause in your lease agreement? I’m sure (after removing the company image) some would be parking that vehicle right-through that dealership’s front window trailer and all.

    Being a small hosting company, I have to use a third party domain registrar to keep all my clients domain records. Thank goodness I don’t use Network Solutions for my clients domains! If I had, as a hosting company, I would be the one taking the heat and probably losing my entire business over it. I just hope that my current domain registrar never considers doing as Network Solutions.


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