Web Service Hijacked By Domain Speculators

The co-creator of the first free service for validating Web page design
says his site has been hijacked by domain speculators.

Mark Gaither is president of WebTechs, an Austin, Texas company that
launched the first free, HTML validation service back in 1995. Since then,
thousands of other sites have linked to webtechs.com, after using the free
service to check their web pages for programming errors.

But because of what Gaither says is a mistake by Network Solutions, the
company that manages Web addresses, in mid-March the domain was
transferred to a Denmark company called Virtual Domain Buyers that produces
X-rated sites.

“Three weeks ago I couldn’t access my site, and then I got a call from a
lady at the Library of Congress wondering if I had changed it to a porn
site,” said Gaither. “That really tarnishes WebTechs’ and my name, so I’m

A spokesperson for Network Solutions said Thursday Gaither’s registration
for webtechs.com was deleted after he failed to pay the renewal fee that
was due last October. The company says it reclaims domain names from
thousands of registrants every year because of delinquent payments.

Gaither maintains that NSI has made a serious clerical error, and he’s
got a cancelled check to prove it. But since he’s hit a stone wall trying
to deal with NSI’s support and billing personnel, Gaither says he’s hired
an attorney.

“I don’t want any money and I don’t want to get tied up in litigation,”
said Gaither. “All I want is a public apology and my domain back.”

Last month, Network Solutions admitted that it erroneously pulled the plug
on 10 domains, as part of a broad effort to thwart domain
speculators. The company promised to reinstate the sites to its root servers.

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