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Domain Names And Dirty Politics

June 17, 2016

Domain name shenanigans that have plagued U.S. politics are being felt by Australian politicians as well.

According to the Canberra Times, someone has registered the domain name (we assume not ACT Labor's Senator Gallagher) and is redirecting the domain to ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja's web site. In that instance, it's difficult to determine who the party is as they've used a private registration feature. ACT Labor has control over the .COM.AU version of Senator Gallagher's name.

In a game of tit for tat, the Canberra Times says ACT Labor has registered, which redirects to a site critical of the Liberal Party. According to a WHOIS lookup, the registrant is actually a communications agency that lists the ACT Government among its clients.

The same sort of thing has been going on all over the world for years. It's been a thorn in the side for some candidates in the U.S. presidential race. Internet-savvy politicians are actively trying to avoid these incidents - for example Donald Trump spends up big on defensive domain registration (and arguably goes a little overboard as he has a tendency to do).

Registration monkey business is not uncommon outside of the political arena too. 

It's a little harder to carry out in the .AU space due to stricter criteria associated with Australian domain names; but still happens from time to time. 

The lesson from these incidents is that it's a good idea to a) register the .COM.AU version of your name and b) register the .COM version too if it's available. 

Even if you're not a celebrity or hold a high-profile position, it can be a protection against nefarious activities being perpetrated "in your name" so to speak.  

And who knows, maybe you will be famous someday - or at the very least find a use for the address.

If you find yourself the victim of such an incident of cybersquatting in the AU namespace, there is recourse (and the same goes for "bad faith" registrations in .COM), but it can be drawn out and quite expensive to deal with. An ounce of prevention is certainly better than a pound of cure.

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