I was surprised to find this morning when reviewing stats for my Sexdotcom.info site that a site called Skweezer.net has appeared.
I was even more surprised when I followed links through and found that this website has grabbed a large chunk of the content on my site and stored it on its own servers. This is what is commonly called copyright infringement, a more polite way of saying theft.
So I started doing a quick bit of researching on Skweezer.net and found, incredibly, that people are nominating this company for awards.
I was at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens last week taking pictures, among other things. I have finally been through all the snaps and have posted a few below amid a quick rundown of events.
The remainder can be found at my IGF photo gallery/archive at kierenmccarthy.co.uk/photos/igf/. If anyone has any questions or queries, please email me at: kieren [at] thiswebaddress.co.uk.
The Internet Governance Forum will start on Monday morning but already the debate has started – and it is surrounding freedom of speech online.
There are several reports that the Greek authorities arrested a man for linking – not writing, but linking – to blog posts that had satirised a businessman (possibly a TV evangelist). The businessman complained to the police and the police picked up the adminstrator of blog aggregation site blogme.gr – and charged him.
Update: The man arrested was Antonis Tsipropoulos and the target of the satire was Dimosthenis Liakopoulos – a controversial Greek tele-evangelist. The satire site that mocks Mr Liakopoulos can be found at funel.blogspot.com, but since it is hosted in the US, neither the Greek authorities nor even Mr Liakopoulos can get at it.
So Nominet held a big meeting in London on Monday covering the new Internet Governance Forum that will meet for the first time at the end of this month in Athens.
In some ways, it was a sort-of mini IGF in that it took the same free-ranging panel approach and that it explictly held two panels on two of the four main themes of the IGF – “security” and “openness” (Nitin Desai pointed out that had the meeting been in a developing country, the panels and debate would have been on the other two themes – diversity and access).
It was also similar to the real meeting in the role that I have been asked to play: “chief blogger” – meaning scouring the Internet for interesting comments and reading them out to the room. Actually, this term “chief blogger” has led some to ask whether I’m some of kind of official IGF blogger, which I certainly am not, so I will refer to my role as “blog watcher” from now on.
The general feeling is that the meeting was a success.
The latest new top-level domain – .mobi – is opened up to everyone in just under an hour, 3pm GMT, 10am in New York.
It is an attempt to build a mobile Internet and a number of big boys are behind it including Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, T-Mobile and Vodafone. It’s pretty uninspiring at the moment but just wait for the next generation of phones with a hardware tie-in.
I’ve just done a quick story about the 74,000 .eu domains that EURid has suspended and the 400 registrars it is suing.
First of all, thanks to John McCormac who sent me an email earlier today pointing it out with a link to his blog with more info. EURid, I discovered soon after, had stuck up a press release and I called up Patrik Linden at EURid for more info and, as ever, he was incredibly straightforward, honest and helpful.
So the upshot to the registrar scam that came to light almost immediately after the .eu domains were opened to the public back in April is finally being dealt with. Hopefully no one will profit too much by playing the system. None of this removes the fact though that EURid was warned by several big registrars long before they started selling .eu domains that this problem was likely to happen.
If you want to know more, read my story on The Register.
I’ve written a piece for The Register which went up this morning about Nominet having to deal with a US company surreptiously data-mining the Whois details for .uk domains to use in their products.
It’s an interesting story in that it highlights something that most people are really very unaware of, plus helps outline the risks we face in not building sufficient privacy laws with digital technology. Nominet is a rare example of a main Net registry that provides a minimum of Whois information about domain owners and also has an opt-in to remove all information except your name.
This system about thanks to two Australian con-men a few years ago taking the entire Whois for .uk domains and then using it to send people letters telling them they had to pay extension fees to keep their domains. It was a scam, but one that 50,000 Nominet customers were fooled by.
That isn’t my main point however. My main point is that while under European law, the Whois data is copyright and therefore protected, under ICANN rules, all global top-level domains – which means all dotcoms, dotnets, dotorgs etc – have to make all people’s contact details publicly available, and that means home address and telephone number and email address.
I’ve got a feature in The Guardian today about ENUM. What’s [tag]ENUM[/tag], you say? Well that was certainly one of the problems in writing the feature – no one’s ever bothered to write about it, and so no one outside of a few technical circles has heard of it.
ENUM is basically a way of connecting the old telecoms network with the Internet. And this is very good news for us all because it means a broad sweeping move to everything running on IP networks, and that not only makes everything work together faster and cheaper, but also opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
The difficulty in writing my article though was that I have to reduce down years of work and five good interviews into 1,000 words and also explain what ENUM was. I think I did a pretty good job, although I had to oversimplify and I had to miss out lots of interesting info, as well as what should really have a story on its own: why the UK ENUM roll-out has taken so long.
Actually, I barely even mentioned the UK ENUM limited company and the timeplan for bringing ENUM to the UK. And I missed out Lesley Cowley (Nominet CEO) altogether. Still I suppose if people get interested in ENUM, I already have the material to write a dozen more features having spoken to everyone of importance in the UK.
I also did a short pithy news summary of the .xxx saga. Basically pointing out that it was Dr Dobson and his Christian cohorts that forced the US government to force ICANN’s Twomey and Cerf to change their mind.
But the story’s not over yet. In fact, I’m working on a [tag].xxx[/tag] story as we speak that should prove very interesting.
And then I can get on with the [tag]Sex.com[/tag] book, which is increasingly becoming a troublesome enterprise because I am having to *not* do important things. Such as going to Geneva for the next meeting of the IGF preparations. I’d love to go and meet people and discuss where we’re up to with discussions over solving some of the Internet’s biggest problems, but I can’t, I have to get on with the book.
I suppose that’s an impetus into working harder.
I am also currently ignoring all the issues still surrounding this new blog (missing files etc) because I could easily spend a day just sorting them out. I did mock up some quick redirect HTML files so that old links to articles still work and automatically redirect to the new page that it’s on, but I’ve yet to find an automated tool for doing it, so it is a manual process.
I activated my stats engine this morning, so I should soon see what impact losing the blog for two days has had on people reading this blog.
Okay, I have completed the first, biggest stage of the Sexdotcom website.
I have grown sick of trying to get a blog fitting within the Latest news section so I have just stuck in some basic HTML covering where the book is up to, and what is going on with the Sex.com case in the real world.
I will add a blog style approach later, and then finally get around to have a blog interface later once I’ve moved onto a new hosting deal with MySQL so that people have leave comments. But, frankly, it was taking up too much time when I need to do more writing.
I did a news story yesterday for The Times on the new .eu domain, and it proved to be more interesting than I thought.
The new domain – which shouldn't actually exist under the ICANN rules for top-level domains, but when the EU's 29 countries are breathing down you're neck… – is due to be opened up to the public in just under a month's time, 7 April, and we're currently in the sunrise period for trademark holders to grab domains and so prevent cybersquatting and subsequent legal batles.
Actually there's an interesting question: if a company *fails* to register its.eu namesake and then a member of the public grabs it, surely that individual would have a pretty strong case in keeping it by arguing the company had been given plenty of time to grab it and had failed?
Anyway, the interesting review of the domains comes thanks to the tremendous stats provided by EURid, which offer big, real-time breakdowns including Total number of applications; Total number of accepted applications; Total number of rejected applications, all according to individual country. In addition, the EURid whois provided a tremendous amount of details over who has applied for the domain and when.
For example, Amazon has applied 22 times for its domain; Skype 16 times. But Google only once – although 11 others have also applied, and it's first-come, first-served.
The stats also provide a political and social map of Europe. The Germans are roaring ahead in applications – much as they are in real-world domain application – the .de top-level domain is second only to the dotcom registry.
The Brits should be next but instead we come fourth with 9 percent of applications – something that demonstrates more than anything this island's peculiar love-hate relationship with Europe.
I like the fact as well that Volkswagen got to Polo.eu first, beating Ralph Lauren and its Polo clothing range, and Nestle and its Polo mints.
I wonder how many more clashes have taken place. And I wonder how many grabbable domains will be left on 7 Apr. It's all up there to find out.
Most of all I wonder how successful the .eu domain will be in the real world. There have been 301,000 applications for 219,000 domains but then this a sunrise period and it makes sense for companies to grab their domains because it costs them comparatively nothing and there is the risk that .eu could become a big domain in future.
But the real test will come when everyone can buy a .eu domain. Will people really want them? What does .eu do that others don't? Do people feel that European? We shall see.
Oh yes, as for most popular domains – guess what – Sex.eu comes top. The Top Ten reads:
And there you have it.