May 14, 2005

If You Misspell It, They Will Come: Cybersquatting of the Sneakiest Kind

I've been bothered/puzzled by this for a long time, especially yesterday when I went to visit Netflix and mis-typed the URL and got a site very similar, with similar services, but certainly not the place I was looking for.

We had a whole conversation at the old ISP where I interned about how the powers that be decided it was a good idea to keep ahead of the misspellers, and register tons of variations on their name, using each potential mistake to redirect web surfers to the real site, to keep people from getting lost out there in the digital frontier.

Of course, as it turns out, entire businesses thrive on slipped fingers on the keyboards, and people register domain names that are ALMOST the one you're looking for, except totally not. Sometimes they are simply shopping sites, and sometimes they are smutty gross stuff you wouldn't want your kid looking at.

The long arm of the law catches up with piggish porntrapreneurs who register multiple misspellings of popular sites with the intention of misleading people to porn and other commercial sites.

Some dirtbag operating out of a hotel in Hollywood, Florida, was making millions of dollars by tricking children into accessing porn websites and pop-ups.

"As detailed in the Complaint, investigation by the Postal Inspection Service revealed that if a person were to inadvertently access either “WWW.BOBTHEBIULDER.COM” or “WWW.TELTUBBIES.COM,” the person would be presented with advertisements for free access to pornography; as described below, these advertisements included numerous high-quality images of hard-core pornography, including explicit photographs..."

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