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    Registrars 4525 different domains that lead to a single porn site
    posted by michael on Thursday April 18 2002, @11:41AM

    BenEdelman writes "In casual web surfing, many Internet users have stumbled into a seemingly-innocuous domain name that oddly presented a screen full of sexually-explicit images. Usually, this causes a momentary puzzle that's forgotten in an instant, but when it happened to me at bicyclebills.com (warning: sexually-explicit images), I decided to investigate the Tina's Free Live Webcam operation to which bicyclebills.com had redirected me.

    My research -- thanks to some searching by various automated systems I developed for the purpose -- yielded a list of 4525 distinct domains that each lead to the Tina's Webcam site. Reviewing Yahoo, Google, and archive.org reflects that many (if not most or all) of these domains were previously registered by others -- who ultimately by and large seem to have let the domains expire, whether through forgetfulness, confusion, or lack of interest."




    The inference of reregistration is imperfect and in some cases uncertain, so I want to encourage readers to take a look through the list on their own. To that end, I have posted the entire listing of specific domains that point to Tina's Webcam as well as extensive information about each -- prior page titles from archive.org, current Yahoo category listings, referencing pages as reported in Google, etc. This turns out to be quite an entertaining read -- for Tina has come to hold domains previously used not just by a bicycle store but also by a BBB, a French school, several bands, many personal home pages, and all manner of software companies, ISPs, retailers, and other commercial interests.

    My complete listing & analysis are available at:
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/edelman/renewals


    The underlying policy questions here are, it seems to me, serious and as yet unresolved. Consider: If a Massachusetts homeowner fails to pay a water bill, her water won't get turned off for some months. (Years?) But if she fail to renew her domain name, a porn site might grab it within as little as a couple weeks. Worse yet, dozens of registrars and others mine or buy registrant contact info from the WHOIS database and use this info to send solicitations that look much like official and important renewal notices from a registrant's actual registrar -- making it hard to know which bill to pay and which to throw out. That's not to excuse content providers who can't keep their domains paid up, but this process is far harder than it needs to be. ICANN and the registrars have their work cut out for them in straightening this out. (http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-04apr02.htm reflects that they have at least formed a committee that's slated to work on it.)


    Ben Edelman
    Berkman Center for Internet & Society
    Harvard Law School
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman

     
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  • http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/p eople/edelman/renewals
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    4525 different domains that lead to a single porn site | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 27 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: 4525 different domains that lead to a single p
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Thursday April 18 2002, @11:12PM (#5888)
    User #2810 Info
    I've slagged Ben numerous times here for various reasons but this is excellent work, like Edward Hasbrouck regarding .aero or Richard Henderson regarding .biz and .info. That is one of the emergent properties of the internet, and ICANNWatch deserves full credit for providing the conduit to get these memes out into the wild. -g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    UPDATE: DomainStrategy provides web server log fil
    by BenEdelman on Thursday April 25 2002, @02:36PM (#5999)
    User #3219 Info | http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman
    An update on the research previously reported --

    Several days ago, DomainStrategy reconfigured their domain forwarding so as to display what I take to be their ordinary homepage, http://www.domainstrategy.com, rather than the "Tina's Free Live Webcam" page, when any of their various domains is requested.

    A careful look at the domainstrategy.com page shows that it includes links to freely-accessible web log analysis provided by ExtremeTracking. At this page, it is possible to see DomainStrategy.com usage analysis going back to mid November of 2001.

    Some notes and highlights that result from the newly-available data:

    • Until just this week, DomainStrategy's domains did not (by and large) forward to domainstrategy.com. As a result, the majority of ExtremeTracking analysis does not reflect usage of all of DomainStrategy's domains
    • For the last several days, however, DomainStrategy has configured their many domains to point to domainstrategy.com. The ExtremeTracking data therefore seems to well represent the usage of these domains during the past few days. The ExtremeTracking analysis suggests that the various DomainStrategy domains jointly receive on the order of 25000 hits per day, perhaps somewhat inflated due to discussion here and elsewhere.
    • DomainStrategy seems to have some domains that were not previously configured to forward to Tina's Webcam. For example, according to archive.org, Pahabbahooey.com was previously a site providing child entertainment and stories; however, at least as of mid-April this domain did not forward to Tina's Webcam. Similarly, the Gardner Police Department of Gardner Massachusetts previously used gardnerpolice.org, another DomainStrategy domain subsequently configured other than to point to Tina's Webcam.
    • As suggested in my initial report, even a few bad (non-updated) links from search engines and directories can lead to a large amount of traffic. ExtremeTracking reports a total of 80,000 hits resulting from a listing in the Kids section of Yahoo Korea.

    NOTE: In case ExtremeTracking or DomainStrategy prevents or restricts future access to the log analysis linked above, I have mirrored it (and added brief discussion) in the Results section of my report.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    RE: "Next time I go to college, I want to take wha
    by BenEdelman on Thursday April 18 2002, @01:19PM (#5884)
    User #3219 Info | http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman

    Next time I go to college, I want to take whatever class it is that Ben's taking.

    Yes, it's certainly true that much of my recent work has addressed porn on the 'net and attempts to regulate or restrict it -- my ACLU study documenting overblocking, for example. And, as is my preference, much of my work uses "bots" and other automated systems -- fun to write, I think, and often a source of fascinating non-obvious results, I've found.

    To be clear, though, this isn't class-related work. Instead, it's work that's asked of me by private clients (like the ACLU) or that I conduct on my own (like this project), in some instances with support from The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: Who's behind "Domain for sale"?
    by BenEdelman on Friday April 19 2002, @04:22AM (#5897)
    User #3219 Info | http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman
    Can you provide an example of the specific domains registered by this individual?

    I've been casually looking into warehousing for a few weeks. I'm still not sure what the project is -- but it might be interesting to prepare a list of some thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of domain names registered by one or several warehousers. I don't think this will be hard, actually, but again (as with the reregistrations work) the first step is a "seed" example of what the system should be looking for.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Study of
    by BenEdelman on Thursday May 16 2002, @06:00PM (#6411)
    User #3219 Info | http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman
    Thanks for the suggestion. I had been looking into them previously, as it turns out, and I published a report about their 1000+ registrations (via several registrars, using registration names and addresses in several countries) earlier this week.

    My report is at
      http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/edelman/invalid-whois

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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