Monitoring Whois Searches

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A domain investor friend of mine forwarded me an email he received from Network Solutions today, with the following message:

Subject: The Domain You Searched For Is Still Available: On Sale Now!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.net      Buy Now for ONLY $19 >>
Available as of 11/09/2009

Domain names are how people find you online, how you express yourself through email or your website, and it’s what customers think of when trying to find you. Register yours today while it’s still available!

nsWebAddressâ„¢ packages include your domain name registration plus:”
….
etc

I always assumed that domain registrars and companies used Whois lookup data for internal purposes, but I didn’t think a company would use it for marketing purposes. My friend doesn’t believe he did the look up from within an account at Network Solutions, so he was even more surprised that his search was emailed to him.

I know that companies monitor searches and other research, and I’ve warned people to be cautious when doing research, but it just seems a bit over the top when a company sends an email like this. It’s almost like, “don’t mind us looking over your shoulder, but you can buy that name you looked up the other day just in case you didn’t realize.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think this is right. I would really like to know how they got the person’s email address, but I can only assume they tracked his IP address to an account there. Personally, I use DomainTools for Whois lookups.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

5 COMMENTS

  1. When one uses a Whois provider, there’s usually some terms involved in governing that use isn’t there?

    They may be violating their own TOS or Privacy policy’s

    The usual Whois terminology reads like this:

    you agree to these terms of usage and limitations of warranty. In particular, you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible,
    dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and and solicitations of any kind, including spam. You further agree not to use this data to enable high volume, automated or robotic electronic
    processes designed to collect or compile this data for any purpose, including mining this data for your own personal or commercial purposes.

    This seems geared for the “user” only but from a little bit of research the whois provider has to have an agreement with ICANN or someone in order to solicit to you.
    That agreement wherever it is seems to never be displayed anywhere.

    Seems that each Whois provider creates their own terms which circumvents the baseline rules for the whois, but doesn’t have any reference whatsoever to those rules/terms/policy.

    Regardless of who the provider is, it’s a practise that goes on time and time again, and I doubt there is anything that anyone can do about it.

  2. Hi El Silver,

    Your article brings us back to the story I’m writing about Domain Industry scandals. Doesn’t this article you wrote jog your memory of NetSol’s buying every domain searched for within their system and then offering to sell it BACK to the person later for the maximum price (I think it’s $35 a year)? Their official statement was “we’re protecting the domain for you so it isn’t lost in domain tasting.”

    Your readers can either post on my current blog article asking for stories and opinions on the “worst domain industry scandal”, regardless if it was blown up in the media or not. I just need a real name and their stories. The submitters can remain anonymous if they request it. They can also tell their story by emailing me if they prefer (successclick [at] gmail.com).

    my blog: http://www.successclick.com

    thx for your help on this!

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