In an email to customers on Wednesday, Namecheap said it is actively blocking domain registrations that include certain words related to the current pandemic, including “coronavirus”, “covid” and “vaccine.”
Words are blocked in the domain finder, Namecheap CEO said, preventing the online purchase of URL strings containing them, the company emailed users of its registration tool.
A quick search of the Namecheap site found some URL options using the word “coronavirus,” including coronavirus.world, priced at $ 97,000. The URL covidvaccine.dev was also available for $ 12.88 per year, and covid19cure.vip could be picked up for the bargain price of $ 3.99.
Namecheap works with authorities to remove fraudulent websites associated with pandemic
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However, clicking to add the URLs to a shopping cart to verify brings up a window stating that “the domain contains restricted phrases and cannot be self-registered”.
Namecheap is just a domain registrar that people can use to locate URLs they want to buy – the name of a site followed, typically, by a .com or .org. The process is extremely simple: you type the word, or more likely a string of words, into a search engine to find what’s still available (nothing with .com unless you’re creative) and the price you’re going to pay.
There are already sites online that serve content that is not considered accurate when it comes to the novel coronavirus. In this regard, Namecheap told its users that the company “is actively working with authorities to both prevent and proactively remove any fraudulent or abusive domain or website related to COVID19,” wrote Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall, in his email to clients.
The company has left the door open for people who believe they have a “legitimate use” to register a URL with words, like coronavirus, that relate to the current pandemic. In these cases, they have asked people to contact the Namecheap support team, who will review the request and then “manually register it for you”, if approved.