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US elections spark cybersquatting frenzy

Clinton, Obama and McCain fall foul of online speculators as over 1,900 domains names are purchased

February 29, 2008; 06:12 AM

29 February 2008: The most eagerly followed US election race in decades has triggered an avalanche of cybersquatter activity as online speculators try to cash in on the heightened media coverage of the 2008 presidential race by registering over 1,900 domain names related to the presidential candidates.

Hillary Clinton is the most popular candidate online with 1,080 domain names having been registered in her name by fans and foes with highlights including sites such as Barack Obama trails his Democratic rival with 635 registered domain names, including written and performed by supporter Alan Burrell. Republican candidate John McCain lags well behind his two rivals with just 269 dedicated domain names registered in his name, and largely unflattering ones such as (an anti-McCain blog) and (an anti-McCain blog promoting Hillary Clinton as an alternative).

While a significant number of domain names lead to support or hate sites, a significant proportion lead to online ‘click farms’ – websites that feature Google-style pay-per-click adverts where the cybersquatters are making money out of people looking for official information on the presidential candidates. Such is their value in advertising terms that one canny cybersquatter from California is trying to sell and for $1,299 immediately after registering them, requesting payment simply via his paypal account.

Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer for NetNames comments, “The US presidential race is attracting rolling news coverage and all of the candidates have invested significantly in engaging their electorates online, but it is very difficult to stop negative websites being created. In the meantime, cybersquatters are cashing in by registering domain names relevant to the presidential candidates to lead unsuspecting people to pages full of pay-per-click advertising.”

Research methodology

NetNames used tools from its Platinum Service to audit domain name registrations including the presidential candidates’ names. The Platinum Service is used to protect and manage the international domain name portfolios for over one third of the FTSE 100 companies.

About NetNames

NetNames is part of London listed Group NBT plc (LSE: NBT). Through its industry leading domain name management service, NetNames Platinum Service, the company is responsible for managing and protecting online brands for international corporates, including in excess of 30% of the FTSE 100. Following the acquisition of Ascio Technologies in January 2007 NetNames became Europe’s largest domain name management specialist.

NetNames is an ICANN Accredited Registrar with the ability to register domain names in all available suffixes worldwide. The company is headquartered in London, with offices in New York, Nice, Munich, Madrid, Copenhagen, Zurich and Oslo. For further information, visit



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