According to reports on CNET and in AdAge that were published earlier this week it seems that the US government, via its Federal Trade Commission (FTC), could take possession of the valuable Army.com domain name as part of a legal settlement with the company that operated the domain name.
Here’s an excerpt from the CNET article:
“The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it had seized nine copycat websites that harvested and sold users’ personal information by posing as US military recruitment sites.
The operators of websites such as Army.com and NavyEnlist.com tricked people interested in joining the military out of their personal information by falsely claiming to be affiliated with specific branches of the military, the FTC said in a complaint filed in an Alabama federal court.”
Here’s an excerpt from a statement put out by the FTC last week regarding the Army.com domain name and other domain names:
“The operators of copycat websites army.com and navyenlist.com have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they targeted people seeking to join the armed forces and tricked them by falsely claiming to be affiliated with the military in order to generate sales leads for post-secondary schools.
The defendants, including the Alabama-based companies Sunkey Publishing, Inc. and Fanmail.com, LLC, have agreed to relinquish army.com, armyenlist.com and other domain names, and to stop the practices that they allegedly used to deceive consumers.”
Although many Americans would likely think of the US Army first when they hear the term “Army,” there are armies in almost every country throughout the world. The word “army” could also be used in its descriptive sense as well (ie “an army of people showed up”). As such, the Army.com is a valuable domain name.
In 2015, Motherboard published an article about the Army.com domain name and website. In that article, the founders of the company that operate(d) Army.com discussed acquiring the domain name and other valuable generic domain names during the same time period. The article also mentioned that the company turned down an offer “in the seven figure range” for Army.com.
Due to GDPR, the current Whois record shows “Data Protected,” so I am unsure who the registrant is right now. When an agency within the US government seizes a domain name, I believe they may put up a message notifying visitors about the seizure, similar to this one I found referenced on Wikipedia. I do not see any type of seizure notice on Army.com to indicate that the domain name has been seized.
With the FTC reportedly having seized (or planning to seize) the domain name, it will be interesting to see if or how the domain name is used. I am just speculating here, but perhaps the domain name will be given to the Department of Defense (or other agency associated with the US Army) to use in a similar fashion to how Navy.com and AirForce.com are used. I will keep my eyes on the domain name to see what happens with it.
I personally always liked the branding aspect of using GoArmy.com Having Army.com isn’t going to make a difference either way. The Army sponsors all kinds of sports and motorsports and GoArmy.com fits perfectly from a marketing standpoint.
If army.com was using the strength of the domain to falsely claim to be part of the US Army and get personal info from people then that is problematic. However, if it was purely an informational site, then the US government seizing it is problematic and worrisome. Here are the pages saved on the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20170515000000*/army.com so you can judge for yourself.
Is spaceforce.com next.