Satya's blog - Yahoo domain names fiasco

Jan 31 2009 12:17 Yahoo domain names fiasco

I have a domain at Yahoo Small Business that expires next month. Since Yahoo now charges about $30 or more per year, I decided to transfer the domain to Dotster.

I always set up whois privacy for my domains, so that a Whois database lookup (this is public information) returns a placeholder postal address, email address, and phone and fax numbers instead of my own. Yahoo and Dotster both claim that they will forward anything received at these points of contact to me, as long as it doesn't look spammy. Yahoo contracts with MelbourneIT for this, by the way.

Unfortunately, the contact information that Yahoo puts into the Whois system isn't tagged. Everyone using the Whois privacy "feature" gets the same details. How does Yahoo distinguish between them? It doesn't. When I requested a domain transfer via Dotster, Dotster sent an email to the administrative contact, which was Yahoo's placeholder address. I never saw that email. Only by turning the Whois privacy off, and asking Dotster to re-send the request, did I get Dotster's email. In the meantime my private information is exposed to the world of domain criminals.

Dotster's private registration *does* use tagging, the email address listed is something random. So they can forward real requests to me. I have tested this successfully.

In the meantime, I did a Whois lookup for a domain I had cancelled several months ago. To my surprise and dismay, Whois showed my personal information for this cancelled domain! The technical contact was listed as MelbourneIT, so I contacted them and asked to have my information removed immediately. They asked me to contact Yahoo. Yahoo asked me to call them. I did, and had the information removed. Apparently, at Yahoo Small Business, "cancelling" your domain does NOT mean "de-registering"! Horrible. I'll never be using Yahoo Small Business again. I'll be avoiding anything by MelbourneIT, too.

I'm not the only one with this problem.

Tag: geeky rant