WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In this 2016 elections cycle, credible information about candidates has been difficult to find and domain names have played a part in voter confusion, with third parties owning up to 40% of websites matching candidate names in a given top-level domain (TLD), such as .org and .com.
“While legitimate fair use of domain names should continue to be protected, bad actors looking to profit off of identity squatting and other types of cybersquatting should be deterred and prosecuted in order to put an end to these types of practices”
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) concluded in its recent study that there has been widespread use of politicians’ names in domain names across legacy and new TLDs by opponents, who are using these confusingly-worded sites for misinformation or slander purposes. “Presidential and Congressional Candidates Face Identity Squatting” is CADNA’s fourth biennial study of online identity squatting affecting members of the US Congress and presidential candidates. Josh Bourne, President of CADNA, comments, “our report this year, as it has done in the past, brings to light the continuing challenges of politicians trying to deliver legitimate information to their voters online when the bad behavior of cybersquatters is allowed to continue without meaningful consequences.” Over 100 “for sale” pages based on politician names and 1,100 websites hosting pay-per-click ads designed to monetize errant user traffic were found. Some additional relevant examples include:
- ClintonKaine.com, which features anti-Clinton content
- TrumpPence.Republican, which redirects to NeverTrump.com
“While legitimate fair use of domain names should continue to be protected, bad actors looking to profit off of identity squatting and other types of cybersquatting should be deterred and prosecuted in order to put an end to these types of practices,” emphasizes Bourne. The internet is now the essential location for the free exchange of information and ideas and there is a need for trust in internet content to allow for effective communication between politicians and their constituents. If used for nefarious purposes by identity squatters, websites that visitors assumed were endorsed by candidates can lead to potentially harmful misinformation.
As Bourne notes, “while politicians are widely affected by cybersquatters, the harm that emerges from such practices pales in comparison to the risks for consumers posed by cybersquatting on brands. Effective legislative policies that make cybersquatting a riskier endeavor can help keep the practice from remaining lucrative.”
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, Inc. (CADNA), a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation founded in 2007, seeks to make the internet a safer and less confusing place for consumers and businesses alike. Its mission is to decrease instances of cybersquatting in all its forms by facilitating dialogue, effecting change, and spurring action on the part of policymakers in the national and international arenas. CADNA is dedicated to building awareness about and advocating legislative reform to stop illegal and unethical infringement of brands/trademarks online.
CADNA member organizations represent a cross-section of global brand leaders that recognize the critical important of protecting brands and internet users from cybersquatting.
For more information about CADNA and the 2016 study, please visit http://cadna.org/contact/.
Josh Bourne, 202-503-8649