Network Solutions is under fire this week for using a questionable tactic that forces users to register domains with them. As of Tuesday, Network Solutions automatically reserves for four days any domain name that is the subject of a search on its site, preventing users from buying it anywhere else.
But Network Solutions charges $35 a year for a domain name, whereas many of its rivals charge as little as $8 per year. The company claims it instituted the policy to protect customers from "front-running," a practice that involves trolling the WHOIS registry for recently queried domains with the intention of buying them and hiking up the price - pretty much the same thing Network Solutions is doing. In other words, the company's solution for front-running appears to be to do it themselves.
ICANN has announced their intention to look into the matter but hasn't determined whether the registrar's policy violates its regulations.