Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

NZ's leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary since 1995
Australasia's "New Economy" News And Commentary Site
Headlines | XML feed | Contact | New Sites | Press Bin | Job Centre | News Search | For Sale
The Great Domain Name Scam? 31 August 2001 Edition
Previous Edition

Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
The story they tried to kill

Yesterday I received five individually addressed envelopes from a company calling itself Internet Name Group (ING). Each envelope contained a letter addressed to "Domain Name License Holder" and was identical except for the occasional mention of one of my five .co.nz domain names.

The letter was a sales-pitch for a "Pre-Registration" service being offered by the company.

Initially I thought "well at least they didn't spam me by email" and regular readers will know that I'm usually quite kindly disposed towards companies that take the time and effort to show that I'm at least worth a stamp and an envelope.

Within a few hours however, I started getting phone calls from other .co.nz name-holders who had received the same letter. Some of those who were not particularly knowledgeable in the ways of the Net were concerned because the letter is headed "PROTECT YOUR DOMAIN NAME." They were worried that if they didn't pay the $250 being requested that they might lose the domain they already had.

So I rang Australian-based ING and spoke with a member of the front-line staff who identified himself only as Gautam.

Gautam told me how ING was offering a pre-registration service for the $250 and that this would give me a good chance of securing the .info and/or .biz version of the .co.nz name I already had. There are no guarantees though -- you might not get that name.

When I asked whether I got a refund if the name went to someone else I was told "no" -- but I would get a credit for the full $250 that I could spend on other services ING offered. What other services? Well you can renew your .co.nz name through ING and pay just(?) $200 for two years -- that's twice the price it costs to renew directly with Domainz

I asked Gautam how they got my contact details and he said he didn't know, but I was told that ING was "a channel partner" of Domainz -- as if this legitimised their mailout in some way.

Gautam then suggested that I might like to talk with Sasha, the General Manager.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • How unprofessional!... - Peter
  • Total snail mail spam... - Kane
  • Internet Name Group... - Dave
  • .INFO... - Drew
  • even to domains that were cancelled... - Ewen
  • ING... - Craig
  • Heres an idea... - Philip
  • Have Your Say

    I asked Sasha where he'd got his mailing list -- he said he wasn't sure but he was certain it would have been gathered legally. He emphasized that the company was not into unethical marketing and, as an example, didn't use spam to flog its sales-pitch.

    However, based on the evidence received to date, it appears that a significant proportion of .co.nz domain name-holders were targeted in this mailout and it would be reasonable to assume that the information can really only have come from one place -- the Domainz database.

    I contacted Derek Locke from Domainz who said he'd also been alerted to the mailshot by concerned domain name-holders. When asked whether ING had obtained their mailing list from Domainz Locke emphatically stated "we have had nothing to do with this."

    I was also told that ING had been issued with a "cease and desist" order and that Domainz was "not happy." ING's status as a Domainz agent is now under review and Domainz is "seeking advice" on the next course of action.

    One local company which is only too aware of the effects of the ING mailshot is 2Day.com who tell me that they have been fielding queries from worried customers throughout the day.

    When asked for comment, Peter Mott of 2Day.com summed up his feelings in one word "bollocks." In his opinion, the mailshot was worryingly close to pro-forma invoicing. Mott was not at all impressed by ING's actions.

    Now I had originally intended to finish this item by making the point that although the ING sales pitch is possibly rather confusing to Net-neophyte name-holders, it would appear to be quite legal and perhaps could even be described as a smart guerrilla marketing tactic in a competitive marketplace.

    However, yesterday afternoon I emailed Mr Sudakov, requesting that he advise me where he got his mailing list so that any suspicions it might have been gained unethically could be allayed. I did not receive the requested information

    However, I did receive an email from Mark Spektor, who identifies himself as "Legal Counsel" for ING.

    In his email he says, in respect to my conversation with Mr Sudakov, "should you publish the contents of the conversation or any part thereof, or link to our company in any shape or form to the above article, we will issue proceedings seeking injunctive relief and damages."

    Well I'm sorry Mr Spektor but your threats don't wash with me or my readers. At no time was any undertaking given that the conversation was confidential or "off the record" and to claim so retrospectively is both disingenuous and an insult to my intelligence.

    Neither does your demand that "any questions must be provided before the interview in written form and at least 48 hours before" hold any water -- this is a news site, not a history archive.

    Clearly the original note on which I intended to finish this piece would be rather inappropriate. Just what is it that ING are trying to hide by threatening me with legal action for reporting THE FACTS. Just what did Mr Sudakov say that he didn't want published?

    And, perhaps most importantly of all -- exactly how did ING get ahold of the contact names and addresses of all those .co.nz nameholders and why are they so sensitive about disclosing the source? I believe Derek Locke when he says there was no complicity on the part of Domainz -- but I have been told that, as an agent, ING does have easy access to this information from the Domainz database -- although extracting it in bulk is expressly forbidden.

    In the past I have found that those who complain the loudest and threaten to sue are most likely to have something nasty hiding under the carpet. It's my opinion that when a company is straight-up and ethical, they don't try to kill news stories by making all sorts of groundless legal threats.

    If you have a .co.nz domain name and have received a mailshot from ING then be aware that you do NOT need to send these people any money to "PROTECT YOUR DOMAIN NAME."

    Note also that if you do choose to pre-register through ING and you don't get the .biz or .info name you're after, you may not be able to use that $250 credit to renew your .co.nz name -- because there would appear there's a chance that ING may lose their agent's status with Domainz.

    If you really want to pre-register a .biz or .info name, shop around before you lay down your money and ask yourself why ING felt it necessary to try and stop this story from being published.

    As usual, feel free to have your say. What do you think about ING's letter, their marketing tactics and their attempts to kill this story?

    Additional Links Of relevance:

    My apologies for the lack of a lighten-up section this week -- no time, no space. It will be back next week though.

    Save The Aardvark Fund
    Yes, I have had several donations to the Aardvark fund and I thank those who put their money where their mouse is :-)

    If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.

    Just drop by and hand over your loot.

    Free News Syndicated From 7amNews.com
    Add it to your own site


    Add Aardvark To Your Own Website!
    Got a moment? Want a little extra fresh content for your own website or page?

    Just add a couple of lines of JavaScript to your pages and you can get a free summary of Aardvark's daily commentary -- automatically updated each and every week-day.

    Aardvark also makes a summary of this daily column available via XML using the RSS format. More details can be found here.

    Contact me if you decide to use either of these feeds and have any problems.

    Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

    There is/are 0 Vacancies Last added 2 July In The Job Centre

    There are 14 Domain Names for sale

    Security Alerts
    Microsoft tightens software security (CNet - 16/08/2001t)

    Code Red Worm A 'Runaway Success' (7amNews - 20/07/2001)

    Solaris bug gives hackers free rein (ZDNet - 22/06/2001)

    Microsoft Admits Another 'Serious Vunerability' In IIS 7amNews - 19/06/2001)

    Virus Alerts
    Trojan horse breaks Windows PCs (ZDNet - 24/08/2001)

    'Sircam' Worm Getting Hotter (Wired - 20/07/2001)

    Worm: New 'Homepage' virus rated X (ZDNet - 10/05/2001)

    Bookmark This Page Now!


    NZL Sites
    NZ Netguide
    NZ Herald Tech
    PC World NZ
    NZOOM Technology

    AUS Sites
    Fairfax IT
    Australian IT
    AFR Tech
    AUS Netguide
    NineMSN Tech
    APC Magazine

    USA Sites
    CNNfn Tech
    Yahoo Tech
    ZDNet Tech
    USA Today Tech
    7am.com SciTech

    UK Sites
    The Register
    BBC SciTech


    The Day's Top News
    Open in New Window = open in new window
    New Zealand

    Open in New Window Firms want fast net
    Demand for high-speed internet in provincial Otago towns is indisputable...

    Open in New Window E-mails are multiplying and messages swelling, says Xtra
    E-MAIL usage has grown exponentially in New Zealand, with leading Internet service provider Xtra reporting this week that users are sending twice as many messages as a year ago...


    Open in New Window No Need to Alter DMCA -- Yet
    The U.S. Copyright Office says some minor changes are needed in the digital provision of copyright law, but full-scale alterations are not necessary right now...

    Open in New Window Warning: Net Law Has No Borders
    A growing number of people are finding out that abiding by the laws of your own country is no guarantee that you aren't going tobe indicted by the authorities of a foreign country...

    Open in New Window EU expands MSFT probe
    The European Commission Thursday said it has expanded its investigation into Microsoft's business practices to see whether it is acting illegally by incorporating digital streaming media technology into its Windows operating systems...

    Open in New Window Protesters declare war on copyright law
    Supporters backing Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov declare war on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act at a fund-raiser for his legal defense...

    Open in New Window Sklyarov, Boss Plead Not Guilty
    The Russian computer programmer accused of breaking U.S. copyright law pleads not guilty, as expected. Unexpected was the appearance of his employer...


    Open in New Window 'Hacker' MP cleared
    A SENIOR Labor MP accused of hacking has been cleared of any criminal activity...
    Australian IT

    Open in New Window NeuLevel relaxed on .biz suit
    THE Melbourne IT-backed .biz registry, NeuLevel, says it is 'comfortable' about the prospect of litigation which seeks to delay the launch of .biz domain names...
    Australian IT


    Open in New Window U.S. May Help Chinese Evade Net Censorship -NYT
    United States government agencies hope to finance an American-based computer network designed to thwart attempts by the Chinese government to censor the World Wide Web for users in China, the New York Times reported in its online edition on Thursday...

    Open in New Window HailStorm promise and threat remain distant
    Microsoft's HailStorm initiative has been described as everything from a weapon aimed at America Online to a crucial component of the software giant's move to a subscription-based business model...

    Open in New Window Programmer claims to crack MS Reader
    A programmer claims to have developed software that defeats the most advanced encryption features of Microsoft's e-book Reader--one day after Dmitry Sklyarov was indicted...

    Open in New Window 'Microsoft' sending out dangerous new Internet worm
    It has just come in that a new Internet worm called Win32.Invalid.A@mm is being sent out in an email purporting to be from Microsoft Technical Support...
    The Register

    Open in New Window Purchases From Web Sites Fall in Second Quarter
    Sales at U.S. online retailers fell for the second straight quarter in the April-June period, with less than one percent of all goods being sold over the Internet, the government said on Thursday...

    Looking For More News or Information?

    Search WWW Search Aardvark
    Try the Aardvark News Search page or look here.co.nz

    Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2001, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

    jet engine page