• Squatters, Gripers, and Candidates: A Primer on Political Cybersquatting and A Proposal for Reform
  • May 4, 2009 | Author: Matthew T. Sanderson
  • Law Firm: Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered - Washington Office
  • DURING LAST YEAR'S election, were you hoping to read-up on Barack Obama's abortion stance? Too bad, if you went to ObamaForPresident.com. It featured crossword puzzles and fantasy football rather than public-policy papers. Were you looking to volunteer for U.S. Senate candidate John Sununu? If you visited JohnSununu.com, it allowed you to sign up for a free online dating service but not to sign on to a political campaign. Did you want to help finance John McCain's bid for the presidency? During much of the 2008 campaign season, a contribution submitted through the official-looking JohnMcain.com would have supported a man in Houston, Texas, without one nickel funding McCain's run for the White House. All three of these web sites were intuitively linked to prominent U.S. politicians, but none were owned by the candidates or their campaigns. These sites exemplified a broader trend. Without any legitimate affiliation, people nab rights to web sites that evoke politicians' names. They do it for profit. They do it for spite. They do it to broadcast criticisms. They do it out of egotism or to indulge their idea of fun. Most importantly, they do it often and they do it everywhere. "Political cybersquatting," as this practice is known, is occurring with increasing frequency around the world.