'Unethical' cyber-snatcher riles 'Witness' columnist

2008-02-29 00:00

A hyphen caused havoc in cyberspace yesterday when a local businessman controversially registered a website address to re-route online readers to his own website.

In yesterday's 'Geek Corner' column published in The Witness, a spelling error - www.pmb-blog.co.za instead of www.pmbblog.co.za - offered Ronan Duff (who runs www.pmburg.net) the opportunity to register the misspelled domain name and re-direct online users to his site, instead of the intended website promoted in the article.

'He [Duff] is reaping business benefits from what is meant to be a charitable idea of promoting a sense of community in our city,' an irate Andrea Arbuckle, Geek columnist, told The Witness.

The Pietermaritzburg Bloggers website, created by Arbuckle and Wayne Janneker and funded by Janneker, is a website where interested groups and individuals can write and offer their opinion online.

A spokesperson at Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said that generally, domain name registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, saying that 'from a technical point of view, the domain name is different' and that 'legally there is nothing wrong'.

'Wayne and I spent hours setting this website up yesterday and late last night,' said Arbuckle.

'I realised the problem with the printing error literally 10 minutes before he [Duff] went and registered the new domain that routes readers to his site. He doesn't run that website for nothing, so he has sponsored links.

'We didn't [set up our site] for financial gain. Wayne has financed the site from his own pocket - which makes this cyber-snatching [by Duff] all the more unethical.'

Duff was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, a sponsored link on Duff's site, declined to comment on the ethics of the matter.

* Do you think the registration of this different domain is unethical? Send us your opinion or post a comment below.

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