In a blog post on November 11th, Jay Westerdal asks his blog readers for their opinions on whether DomainTools’ controversial Registrant Search tool should be taken down. Although I think it is a cool tool, I believe I have a strong case for why it should be taken down, and my case is supported by evidence provided by Jay in this morning’s blog post, “Chameleon typo squatters.”
In Jay’s newest post, he discusses how some people attempt to mask their identity by registering domain names using other companies’ registration information, with the only difference being the admin contact email address. Jay cites the example of the domain name GoogleWishes.com, which appears to be owned by Google, but uses a different contact email address.
With the Registrant Search tool, this domain name would presumably be listed in Google’s list of domain names, when someone performs a Registrant Search using “Google” as a query. Because the email address differs from the actual email address used by Google in their domain registrations, this domain name does not appear to be owned by Google. However, GoogleWishes.com would appear in the list along with other Google properties such as Google.com, GoogleMaps.com, GoogleVideo.com, and many more.
I know you can whittle down your results by entering more information (such as the usual admin contact email), but if a person ordered the results based on what appears in the Whois.sc/Google.com listing – (Registrant Search: “Google Inc.” owns about 8,211 other domains), this name would probably appear.
Although the domain name GoogleWishes.com would probably not hurt the image of Google, a devious person could severely impact a competitor’s or opponent’s image by registering pornographic or trademark infringing domain names in someone else’s name. Unless a careful examination is made of each name in the list, the Registrant Search tool could be damaging to the victim of a “chameleon typo squatter.”