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Network Solutions amends Net registration process

Facing criticism, Network Solutions has stepped back from some elements of a new process to register Internet domain names.

Network Solutions, a dominant registrar of Internet sites, has stepped back from some controversial elements of a new registration process.

Network Solutions had implemented some changes in an attempt to curtail "front-running," a process in which a company registers a domain name as soon as somebody searches to see if it's available; front-running can turn a registrar into the exclusive holder of a domain and therefore potentially charge more for it than locked-out competing registrars.

The company's changes--which included automatically registering a domain name when somebody searched for it--backfired, and critics accused Network Solutions itself of front-running.

Changes are coming. Spokeswoman Susan Wade said Wednesday that Network Solutions is "making improvements to our protection measure."

One change is that the company will offer only an "under construction" page for sites that it has reserved. For a look at the promotional material it used earlier, a screenshot is preserved at the site of one critical editorial at Domain Name Wire. But that won't be relevant long, because newly reserved names won't "resolve"--in other words, they won't be linked to the numerical Internet addresses that allow Web browsers to locate the pages.

Another change coming soon is that Network Solutions will register domains only when people search for domains from the company's home page. No longer will it do so when people use the company's Whois search page, Wade said.