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article imageBizarre bug sees 'Google.com' sold for $12 to ordinary man

By James Walker     Oct 2, 2015 in Technology
A bizarre bug in Google's domain registration system resulted in an ordinary person being able to purchase 'Google.com' for $12 earlier this week. Google hasn't commented on what made the transaction possible and access was quickly revoked.
Tech Insider reports on the unique discovery made by Sanmay Ved and revealed on his LinkedIn account. On Tuesday, September 29, Ved was looking around the Google Domains interface, apparently learning more about it. The service allows people to purchase domains from Google's registrar division.
Ved searched "google.com", obviously expecting it to be already owned. Instead, to his surprise, it appeared as available and up for sale for $12 a year. The purchase options displayed correctly so Ved added the domain to the cart and began the checkout process.
Expecting an error to appear at any moment, further surprise came after the transaction was completed and ownership of google.com was transferred to Ved. A few moments later, $12 was charged to his card.
The domain quickly appeared in his Google Domains control panel with full management access. The purchase was followed by two emails from sc-noreply@google.com and wmt-noreply@google.com, addresses that do not usually appear after domains have been bought from Google. Ved hasn't shared the contents of these messages as they relate directly to google.com.
Ved began receiving notifications from websites powered by Google Sites. Google's interface for allowing webmasters to analyse traffic to their site, Webmaster Tools, quickly updated to display messages for Google.com, the final sign that the transaction was complete as only verified owners can view such information. Ved writes: "Quite clearly, ownership had been granted to me. Order was successful."
However, he wasn't allowed to keep google.com for long. The order was cancelled within minutes and all access to management facilities revoked. Although this may initially sound unlawful as Ved had successfully purchased goods offered for sale, Google was within its rights to reclaim ownership as it owns the Google Domains registration service that Ved had placed the order with. If he had used an alternative registrar then the situation could have become a lot more complicated.
Ved notes that this occurred back in 2003 when Microsoft somehow "forgot" to renew its hotmail.co.uk domain. It was quickly snapped up by a member of the public who ordered it through provider Nominet UK. Fortunately for the software giant, the individual acted responsibly and made contact to return the domain.
Google hasn't explained how its domain came to be offered for sale to anybody on Tuesday. It is now firmly re-registered to the company and no longer listed as available in any domain marketplace.
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