Web designer buys Google Argentina's domain for £2

Published on 27 Apr 2021

Google Argentina's website was out of action for a couple of hours on Wednesday 21st April. During that time the domain was legally purchased by a web designer for £2. Google quickly regained control of the domain and Google.com.ar is live.

Who bought Google's domain?

In a bizarre and truly marvelous story, first reported by the BBC, a web designer based in Argentina, Nicolas Kurona, aged 30, managed to legally purchase the domain Google.com.ar for a mere £2 while the site was out of action. That Wednesday night while working on a website for a client, Nicolas received some messages from friends on WhatsApp informing him that Google was down. He visited the domain to find that the site was in fact not working. Nicolas decided to visit the Network Information Center Argentina (NIC). The NIC is responsible for operating .ar country code domains. When he searched for Google oddly the domain was available for purchase. Quite convinced that he would not be able to complete the process, Nicolas tried to buy the domain and was able to do so at 21.52 local time. He even received a purchase invoice via email.

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Nicolas shared the purchase invoice with the BBC, who confirmed that the domain was purchased for 270 pesos i.e. £2.08. Shocked at what had just happened the web designer once again visited Google.com.ar and was able to see his personal data. The millions of Google searches and visitors to Google.com.ar were technically coming to Nicolas now.

After the purchase, Nicolas tweeted to clarify what had happened and in a few minutes, it was a major news story. "I want to make it clear that I never had any bad intentions, I just tried to buy it and the NIC allowed me to. When the purchase process was completed and my data appeared, I knew that something was going to happen... I was really anxious," Nicolas said.

The domain name was quickly taken away from the web designer by the NIC and Google regained control. However, his 270 pesos were not returned. Nicolas was relieved and glad that he was not in any trouble.

How did this happen and what does Google say?

A conclusion that many people reached was that Google had simply forgotten to renew its domain. This however does not seem to be the case. Google says it had the license to the domain until July 2021. This was corroborated by Open Data Córdoba, a group that tracks expired Argentine domain. It is still unknown why the domain was released for purchase by the NIC. Google is investigating what happened on Wednesday and has not made it clear how it regained control of the domain. The company has not contacted Nicolas and he was not paid.

A unique turn of events that still lacks full clarity, however, one thing remains true, for a few minutes on Wednesday, April 21st, 2021, Google.com.ar was owned by a small-time web designer.

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Featured image: Mirror.co.uk