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Squatters and Trolls

  • To: whois-comments@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Squatters and Trolls
  • From: Tim Fay <timfay@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 18:57:02 -0500


I am a ten year veteran of operating multiple web sites.  All of my web
sites are controlled by legitimate corporate entities registered under,
and doing busines under, applicable U.S. and/or State laws.

In my experience it is very clear that "domain squatters" and
"registration expiration trolls" are a huge problem in cyber space.
They are a cancer upon the internet.

REGISTRATION EXPIRATION TROLLS:  Many of my friends who operate
legitimate organizations with web sites have been "slammed" by
"registration expiration trolls" as follows:  The day that the
organization's domain name expires, the "registration expiration trolls"
snatch the domain name and register it for themselves -- usually
plastering the new web page with automated ads for domain registration
services as well as other services.

In my experience spammers, phishers and expiration trolls fill web site
owners' mail boxes with bogus expiration notices which makes it all too
easy to forget to renew one's registration.  I receive several such
bogus expiration notices every month from "cyber slammers" attempting to
use dishonest means to get me to switch my domain registrar and/or pay
substantially higher registration or renewal fees.

Under the current system, the hapless domain owner who forgets to renew
or extend their domain name registration -- and which domain is
subsequently registered by a troll -- is screwed and apparently does not
have any recourse but to rename their site and register a new domain.

This is wrong.  There should be a clear-cut protocol which strongly
favors former owners of expired domain names by which they can easily
re-claim their domain names from the trolls (within a reasonable period
of time) at no additional cost (except for normal registration fees).

legitimate organizations whose operations have ceased and whose domain
names have been seized by XXX sex sites and other questionable
enterprises.  This is a huge problem because of the nature of
cross-linking on the internet:  a legitimate cause or organization may
generate hundreds or even thousands of referrals and cross links on
dependent web sites.  Suddenly one day unsuspecting readers who click on
those links and referrals find themselves flooded with undesirable or
objectionable content completely unrelated to the original mission of
the expired or terminated organization.

That is also wrong.

CYBER SQUATTERS:  Similarly, I myself have been slammed by "cyber
squatters" who have somehow or other detected my domain registration
inquiries and who have subsequently registered the domain names about
which I recently have inquired.

For example, I "own" the domain "adversity.net" (meaning I have operated
a legitimate web site with that name for the past 10 years).
Adversity.Net, Inc. is a registered non-stock corporation and has been
granted non-profit, educational status by the U.S. IRS.  But 10 years
ago (when I registered Adversity.Net) -- and within a week of having
researched the availability of "adversity.org" and "adversity.com" --
cyber squatters registered "adversity.com" and "adversity.org".   I
would prefer to have "adversity.org" but it is currently "parked" on the
ad-filled page of a cyber squatter.  Similarly, "adversity.com" is being
squatted upon by a page which identifies itself as "Network Solutions"
and is filled with junk ads.

PRIVACY OF REGISTRATION INFO:  I am not very concerned about the privacy
of the site owner's contact information.  A legitimate organization or
cause should not be afraid of publishing information regarding their
address and telephone number.  For those who have privacy or security
concerns in this matter they should feel free to establish alternate
postal addresses (a P.O. Box, for example) and an alternate telephone
number (installing a new, separate phone line, for example).  Those are
relatively minimal expenses and should not represent an undue burden
upon the registered owners of legitimate domain names.

Those are my comments.  I am hopeful that you can institute reasonable
policies and procedures to curb this type of abuse.

-- Sincerely,
-- Tim Fay
-- Adversity.Net, Inc.

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