Domain resellers circumvent suspension for spamming

New Zealand

Australian-based Internet Name Group (ING) and Internet Registry have circumvented their suspension from registering domain names in the '.nz' domain space. Domainz, New Zealand's internet registry, had suspended the two companies following numerous complaints about their marketing campaigns.

In August 2001 ING sent thousands of letters to '.nz' domain name holders, inviting them to pay NZ$250 as a "pre-registration fee" for '.biz' and '.info' domain name addresses. The letter implied that unless the recipients paid the money (significantly more than the actual cost of registering a '.biz' or '.info' domain name), they could lose their '.nz' domain name and "internet identity". Following its suspension by Domainz, the company has been using an automated domain registry service, Pdom.com. Pdom.com charges NZ$33 for registering '.nz' domain name addresses, while ING has allegedly been charging customers NZ$125.

Over a two-year period Internet Registry sent spam messages to '.nz' domain name holders inviting them to go to its '.nz' website to register their '.com' names for NZ$198 - a mark-up of over 300% on the actual cost. Domainz recently removed the site due to Internet Registry's breach of Domainz's rules, prompting Internet Registry to resend the spam, this time directing readers to its '.com' website.

Domainz chief executive, Derek Locke, has said that there appeared to be nothing illegal with the two companies' tactics, but he is exploring every legal avenue available.

For a discussion of legal action taken against ING in Australia, see Domain reseller in court over marketing practices.

David von Dadelszen, AJ Park, Auckland

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