On Wednesday night, Nicolás Kuroña from Berazategui, Argentina, purchased ownership of the country’s Google domain for a mere 540 Argentine Peso, according to today’s exchange rate equates USD 5.81.
The domain became available after its previous ownership expired the same day. This caused a temporary closedown of the search engine google.com.ar.
Yesterday at 10:45 p.m., Nicolas Kuroña, the alleged culprit, tweeted, “I want to clarify that I entered http://nic.ar I saw the name of http://google.com.ar available and I legally bought it accordingly!”
Google Argentina successfully recovered its domain and soon restored service to users across the country.
Such activity is termed “Cybersquatting,” which refers to the act of holding, registering, buying, or selling a domain to profit off of the rightful owner’s name recognition. The expiration dates of domains are publicly available and can easily be obtained through registration sites like nic.ar.
It is possible that Google Argentina forgot to renew the domain google.com.ar and, during the short lapse, Kuroña saw the chance and took it.
NIC representative provided a statement saying, “There is not final diagnostic” regarding the incident.
Google, for its part, is pleading ignorance. A representative said, “The problem that affected access to google.com.ar has been resolved. We regret the inconvenience that the situation has caused, and we are continuing to investigate the causes.”
The nic.ar site was down as well on Wednesday after the users discovered the incident through social media.
According to nic.ar, Google’s domain had not expired, and the expiration date was in July.
So we don’t have a clear picture of what happened. We know for sure that both nic.ar and google.com.ar have been offline for several hours, and Nicolás Kuroña could register the domain. As the expiration domain, it’s on July 08, most probably he could do it because of an error of the registrar.
Google.com was lost too.
This is not the 1st time when Google lost one of its domains. In 2016, Sanmay Ved, a former Google employee, bought Google.com for $12 after he saw it available on a list with expired domains. He admits that never really expecting the transaction to go through.
“I was hoping I would get an error at some time saying transaction did not go through, but I was able to complete the purchase, and my credit card was actually charged!” he wrote in a post on LinkedIn.
Google admitted that Ved owned the domain, albeit temporarily, and offered him $6006.13, a numerical version of the word Google. When Google learned that Ved didn’t intend to keep the money but instead donate it to charity, the company doubled the reward.
Let’s hope this story serves as a reminder to put your domains on auto-renew or monitor them closely because the recovering process can be costly and time-consuming or even not possible.