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Cybersquatters unwelcome

THE movement against cybersquatting, the use of trade marked names for websites which are not held by the owner, is gaining momentum.

Federal Minister for Communi-cations Richard Alston said there was a need for international rules concerning website registration, where companies or individuals had to prove they were the holder of a trade marked name before they could register it as a domain.

The global nature of the Web demands such regulations be internationally recognised in order to be effective, as persons or companies in Australia could easily avoid regulations by registering names overseas.

International action against cybersquatting has already begun.

On 29 November, US President Bill Clinton signed the Anticyber-squatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, which outlaws the bad faith registration and use of domain names similar or identical to distinctive trade marks.

The use of similar domains has been used in acquiring confidential company information, often through intercepting stray e-mail where the exact domain name is incorrectly typed.

This has been a problem for eVentures Australia, a small online events manager, and e-Ventures Holdings, Rupert Murdoch’s most recent multimillion dollar Internet venture.

eVentures Australia managing director Ralph Kerle claimed to have received confidential information concerning legal arrangements, salary packages and some business strategies of Murdoch’s News Corp and venture capital partner Japanese SoftBank Corp.

“I know enough about it to replicate its entire business model,” Mr Kerle said.

Senator Alston’s attention to domain registration also comes at a time when his name has been registered by an anti-censorship activist, who plans to use it in protest against the government’s Internet laws.

In a letter written to Inter-national Internet Authorities, he expressed his concern over the issue of domain name registration and also suggested the use of an additional category, .id.au.

Companies in conflict over domains can have their case heard in a forum at the Australian Domain Administration.

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