In the beginning there was Internic, the quasi-government outfit tasked with assigning domain names, numbers, etc. Anyone who wanted a domain name could get one for free just by applying.
Soon the Web turned popular and Internic began charging annual fees for the domain names. It eventually morphed into Network Solutions Inc. or NSI (a for-profit registrar later purchased by Verisign). The other parts became a non-profit known as ICANN tasked with over-seeing the IP addresses and the domain name registrars. Soon there were other registrars competing with NSI and competition moderated prices.
So far so good, except that NSI's prices never quite became competitive and people started to move their domain names to other registrars. Operating out of paranoia and panic NSI has employed some desperate acts to retain its customer base and boost its revenues. First came their deliberately convoluted way to transfer domain names; obviously designed to discourage migration. Then came the unregistered domain redirect fiasco, in an effort to capture that segment of the typo-prone Web browsers. Instead of allowing accesses to non-existent domains fail naturally, NSI decided to redirect them to their own site where they would be greeted by advertising and who knows what else.
The Domain Protect program is their latest gimmick in an effort to throw roadblocks in the way of customers migrating their domains. Don't get me wrong, Domain Protect is a useful feature designed to thwart would be slammers from switching domain names to other registrars. But in their latest email to customers (in an ostensible response to ICANN's latest domain transfer policy changes) NSI states:
"To further enhance the security of the domain names you have registered with NSI and to protect you against unauthorized or fraudulent transfers, we will activate our free Domain Protect service for all of your domain names beginning October 18, 2004."
In other words, we don't care if you had decided not to use this service in the past. We will force it back on you to make your domain transfers as difficult as possible. NSI may be desperate but its trickery machine never seems to cease.