Have you ever thought about buying an existing domain name? Where would you start? Well, Nicolas Kurona, aged 30, managed to buy Google.com.ar through a normal legal process.
"I never imagined that it was going to allow me to buy it."
Google Argentina stated that "For a short term, the domain was acquired by someone else." They added that they did indeed regain control of the domain very quickly.
It started when Nicolas was at his desk on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, designing a website for a client. Soon after, he received messages on WhatsApp that Google was down.
"I entered www.google.com.ar into my browser, and it didn't work. I thought something strange was happening." Kurona visited the Network Information Center Argentina (NIC) – the organisation responsible for operating the .ar country code domains. It was there that a message popped up stating that Argentina's Google domain was available for purchase.
Even after thinking that will not work, Nicolas "followed the steps and then I received an email with the purchase invoice". Nicolas bought Google Argentina's domain name for 270 pesos (£2.08/$2.90). To see what just had happened, he typed www.google.com.ar into his search bar. That's when he saw that "My personal data appeared. I was frozen looking at the screen. I could not believe what had just happened."
All of those millions of Google searches, and people coming to www.google.com.ar, were now, in theory, coming to him.
"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."
Still shocked about what happened, Nicolas shared the news on Twitter to clarify how events had gone down.
One theory for this mishap was that Google had simply forgotten to renew its domain name. However, Google says its licence for the domain hadn't expired – and was not due to expire until July 2021.
The Open Data Córdoba group (dedicated to tracking registered and expired Argentine domains) backs this up.
Nicolas says he has no idea what happened, but it feels "slightly strange" to have so much media attention.
Shortly after his purchase, NIC took back the domain name but did not refund him. He says Google didn't get in touch and that he wasn't paid. Google has yet to clear up how they got the domain name back.
The media giant is investigating the situation and the reason why they lost control of Google Argentina.