It has been my favorite ccTLD on the planet since 2007 and now Iâm excited to sayNeustar is taking it to the next level and promoting .US in a new campaign aimed at small businesses. Kickstart America is all about Small Businesses and how they can build their brands on .US. For many Small Businesses shelling-out $10,000+ for a domain name just isnât possible, think of the flower shop down the street from you or your local independent coffee shop.
I have always been a big fan of .US because I think itâs a great way to identify a business in the US or a site with information that is US-specific. There are plenty of brands that have already established a home on .US and with the Kickstart America campaign in full swing the TLD is back in the spotlight and in front of Small Business owners across the US. A new site,About.us was launched yesterday as part of the campaign, the site gives Small Businesses the chance to learn more about .US, collaborate, and learn from other businesses that have build brands on the .US.
The new site looks great and I think this campaign will do a lot to really help get the .US TLD in front of so many small businesses that probably didnât even know it existed. Iâve been waiting for something like this for years and look forward to following along, go .US and rock on Neustar, the new campaign looks great!
To register your .US domain name, check out America Registry here.
Neustar have started a publicity campaign to both alert Americans to and encourage their use of the .US ccTLD.
The campaign wants small business to consider using a .US domain name for their business. Neustar say they spoke to small business, listened to their concerns and the KickStart America Campaign is the result.
As part of the campaign, Neustar have developed a toolkit to assist small business in getting online with help on how to choose a good domain name, information on what to consider on developing a website, and whether the business should do it themselves or hire a professional, and then, once online, how to promote the website and business.
And to help with this âkickstartâ, Neustar and .US are also giving away an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC to attend a national small business conference.
To find out more about the campaign, go to www.about.us.
To register your .US domain name, check out America Registry here.
Seven domain names were seized in an operation by US government authorities as well as more than $896,000 in proceeds from the distribution of counterfeit sports apparel as the result of an investigation into the sale of counterfeit goods on commercial websites.The operation, by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the Department of Justice took the number of domain names seized in similar operations to a total of 758 for websites engaged in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works in Operation In Our Sites, the agencies announced Tuesday.The most recent operation also saw the seizure of more than $896,000 in proceeds from the alleged criminal activities from interbank accounts and three PayPal accounts.The investigation by ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a result of Operation In Our Sites, which targets online commercial intellectual property crime, and began in June 2010. Operation In Our Sites targets online retailers for a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses and DVD boxed sets.”Counterfeiting and intellectual property theft are seriously undermining U.S. business and innovation,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Consumers are at risk, American industry is harmed and U.S. jobs are lost. As a country, we can ill afford the toll that intellectual property theft exacts on our economy and industries. Operation In Our Sites and the related efforts of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are critical to combating intellectual property crime and consumer fraud over the Internet.”According to court documents, investigation by federal law enforcement officers revealed that several subjects whose domain names had been seized in a November 2010 through Operation In Our Sites continued to sell counterfeit goods using new domain names. In particular, the individuals, based in China, sold counterfeit professional and collegiate sports apparel, primarily counterfeit sports jerseys. Law enforcement officers made numerous undercover purchases from the websites associated with the new domain names. After the goods were confirmed to be counterfeit or infringing, seizure warrants for seven domain names used to sell the goods were obtained from a U.S. magistrate judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.The individuals conducted sales and processed payments for the counterfeit goods using PayPal accounts and then wired their proceeds to bank accounts held at Chinese banks. Pursuant to warrants issued by a U.S. district judge, law enforcement officers seized $826,883 in proceeds that had been transferred from PayPal accounts to various bank accounts in China. The funds were seized from correspondent, or interbank, accounts held by the Chinese banks in the United States. Pursuant to additional seizure warrants issued by a U.S. magistrate judge, law enforcement officers also seized $69,504 in funds remaining in three PayPal accounts used by the subjects.”We are working hard to protect American businesses and consumers from the damaging effects of intellectual property crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “This investigation disrupted an online counterfeit goods operation, and also struck at the heart of the criminal enterprise by seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal profits. The Justice Department, together with our partners at ICE, will continue to do all that we can to punish and deter the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.””Those who traffic in counterfeit goods harm the American economy as well as the consumers who purchase the substandard merchandise,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Seizing the domain names of these unscrupulous operators was one big step, and seizing their ill-gotten proceeds should send them another message that these counterfeit sales will not be tolerated.”The investigation was conducted by the IPR Center and HSI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Hooks and Diane Lucas, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Wagner of the District of Columbia; Senior Trial Attorney Pamela Hicks of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Trial Attorney Thomas Dougherty of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.HSI manages the IPR Center in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 20 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.
The US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has cancelled the Request For Proposal (RFP) into the role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), that being the key technical functions supporting the Domain Name System, because they received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community.In their announcement, while noting no proposals met requirements, the NTIA does not say if they received any bids, even from ICANN. ICANN’s CEO and president, Rod Beckstrom, also refused to comment on if ICANN had submitted a bid at their meeting currently underway in Costa Rica.The Department says they intend to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served.There are some that believe the announcement sends a wake-up call to ICANN that they need to get their house in order. And in particular criticisms have come from those groups that ignored the top level domain consultation process that was ongoing for over five years. These groups such as the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) are now using any available method to lobby the US government to stop the TLD process. And if this means getting their two cents worth of lobbying on unrelated issues to discredit ICANN, then so be it.”This RFP cancellation, announced as ICANN convenes its March 11 – 16, 2012 meeting in Costa Rica, can only be seen as a clear message to ICANN that it must seriously address concerns by NTIA and multiple global stakeholders. These include federal policymakers, the ANA, Internet security experts, the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) and other stakeholders that have criticized ICANN’s expansion of the domain name system with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of new generic top-level domains,” said Douglas J. Wood, General Counsel to the ANA, and a partner with Reed Smith LLP.However despite the lobbying and browbeating of those such as the ANA, “one of the key sticking points is the NTIA’s demand that the IANA contractor – ICANN – must document that all new gTLD delegations are in ‘the global public interest,” reported Domain Incite.”This demand is a way to prevent another controversy such as the approval of .xxx a year ago, which the Governmental Advisory Committee objected to on the grounds that it was not the ‘the global public interest.'””Coupled with newly strengthened Applicant Guidebook powers for the GAC to object to new gTLD application,” Domain Incite continued, “the IANA language could be described as ‘if the GAC objects, you must reject.'””NTIA’s cancellation is even more telling because ICANN changed its conflict of interest policy subsequent to Thrush’s departure and the issuance of the RFP. Many people believe the changes ICANN made to its conflict of interest policy were entirely inadequate in addressing NTIA’s legitimate concerns,” Wood went on to say in a statement. “With sixteen directors accountable through no independent oversight, their powers are unrestrained and, as recent decisions illustrate, ignore what the stakeholders want or, more importantly, need.”For now, the NTIA has reached an agreement with ICANN to continue performing the IANA functions until 30 September 2012.
A nationwide enforcement operation called Operation Fake Sweep that targeted stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear throughout the country and also targeted illegal counterfeit imports into the United States, saw hundreds of websites seized that were engaged in counterfeiting and piracy online.In the operation, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 307 websites, 16 of which were illegally streaming live sporting telecasts over the internet, including NFL games, while 291 domain names were involved in illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise.One of those arrested, Yonjo Quiroa from Michigan, was arrested Wednesday by special agents with HSI. He is charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright related to his operation of websites that illegally streamed live sporting event telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet. Quiroa operated nine of the 16 streaming websites that were seized, and he operated them from his home in until his arrest.The website seizures during Operation Fake Sweep represent the tenth phase of Operation In Our Sites, a sustained law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the internet. The 307 websites are in the process of being seized by law enforcement, and will soon be in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to these websites will then find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime.To assist in justifying the seizures, the authorities note that “American business is threatened by those who pirate copyrighted material and produce counterfeit trademarked goods. Criminals are attempting to steal American ideas and products and sell them over the Internet, in flea markets, in legitimate retail outlets and elsewhere. Intellectual property (IP) thieves undermine the U.S. economy and jeopardise public safety. American jobs are being lost, American innovation is being diluted and organised criminal enterprises are profiting from their increasing involvement in IP theft.”The seizures mostly involved .COM, .NET and .ORG domain names, which were targeted “under the same civil-seizure law the government invokes to seize brick-and-mortar drug houses, bank accounts, and other property tied to alleged illegal activity,” ars technica reports. “The feds are able to seize the domains because Verisign, which controls the .net and .com names, and the Public Interest Registry, which runs .org, are US-based organisations. Under civil forfeiture laws, the person losing the property has to prove that the items were not used to commit crimes.”However this round of seizures also included Firstrowsports.tv, the first time including a domain name for the .TV ccTLD for Tuvalu, operated by the US-based company Verisign, reports TorrentFreak.Since the launch of Operation In Our Sites in June 2010, the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) has seized a total of 669 domain names.
“Two bills now pending in Congress — the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House — represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement,” write Mark Lemley, David S. Levine and David G. Post in the Stanford Law Review.”Although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression.””To begin with, the bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet’s critical technical infrastructure. Based upon nothing more than an application by a federal prosecutor alleging that a foreign website is ‘dedicated to infringing activities,’ Protect IP authorizes courts to order all U.S. Internet service providers, domain name registries, domain name registrars, and operators of domain name servers — a category that includes hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the like — to take steps to prevent the offending site’s domain name from translating to the correct Internet protocol address. These orders can be issued even when the domains in question are located outside of the United States and registered in top-level domains (e.g., .fr, .de, or .jp) whose operators are themselves located outside the United States; indeed, some of the bills’ remedial provisions are directed solely at such domains.”To read this article by Mark Lemley (William H. Neukom Professor at Stanford Law School), David Levine (Assistant Professor at Elon University School of Law) and David Post (Professor at Beasley School of Law, Temple University) in full on the Stanford Law Review website, see www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/dont-break-internet
The fight in courts over the US government’s seizure of gambling-related domain names is continuing with Wired reporting “federal prosecutors are asking a judge not to return the domain names of one of Spain’s most popular websites, seized as part of a major US crackdown on internet piracy.””The legal filing over Rojadirecta.com represents the government’s first legal response to a lawsuit challenging ‘Operation in Our Sites.'”The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized as many as 208 domains the authorities claim are linked to intellectual-property fraud, Wired reports, with the first seizures taking place in 2010. “The court-ordered seizures are aimed at web sites that sell counterfeited goods, as well as sites that facilitate illegal music, film and broadcast piracy.””The Rojadirecta .com and .org domains were seized in January along with eight others connected to broadcasting pirated streams of professional sports.”To read the Wired report in full, see:
Website owners around the world using .COM or .NET domain names could find themselves on piracy charges and even face extradition to the US even if their website does not break any local laws The Guardian reported.The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is targeting websites outside America that they believe are “breaking US copyrights whether or not their servers are based in America or there is another direct US link, said Erik Barnett, the agency’s assistant deputy director.”The Guardian also reports that “As long as a website’s address ends in .com or .net, if it is implicated in the spread of pirated US-made films, TV or other media it is a legitimate target to be closed down or targeted for prosecution, Barnett said. While these web addresses are traditionally seen as global, all their connections are routed through Verisign, an internet infrastructure company based in Virginia, which the agency believes is sufficient to seek a US prosecution.”To read the full article in The Guardian, see:
Vice President Biden has been tasked with the job of cutting waste in their agencies as part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people.As one of the campaign’s first steps, the Administration will be targeting duplication and waste among federal websites. There are almost 2000 .GOV domain names with websites, and many microsites under these domains, across the Federal Government. With so many separate sites, Americans often do not know where to turn for information. The White House want to put a halt to the creation of any new websites, and will eliminate more than half of the existing sites over the next year.”For too long the federal government has allowed billions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on inefficiencies,” said Vice President Biden. “Over the last two years, we have been slashing waste across government and today we are putting Washington on notice: the President and I are committed to changing the way government works and we are stepping up the hunt for misspent dollars.”Under many of the 2000 domains and microsites are an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility.While many government websites each deliver value to the taxpayer through easy-to-use services and information, an overall online landscape of literally thousands of websites – each focusing on a specific topic or organization – can create confusion and inefficiency.In addition to confusing the public, duplicate and unnecessary websites also waste money. And while the costs for some of these websites may be relatively small, as President Obama also said in the video, “No amount of waste is acceptable. Not when it’s your money, not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.”So the federal government will do more with less, improving how it delivers information and services to the public by reducing the number of websites it maintains.As one of the first steps of the Campaign to Cut Waste and as part of an OMB memorandum to improve customer service, we’ve taken three concrete steps:
- Stop the bleeding. Starting right now, there is a freeze on all .gov URL’s. This means no one can get a new one without a written waiver from the federal CIO, Vivek Kundra. Facing this constraint, agencies will focus on their current infrastructure, adding content and functionality to existing websites.
- Map out the current landscape. To understand what’s working, and what isn’t, agencies will need to report on every URL they maintain. In addition, we’re enlisting the oversight of a powerful stakeholder: you. In the next 30 days, a list of all registered .gov domains will be published so that you can pore over them yourself and offer feedback.
- Develop a government-wide policy for websites. While it’s pretty obvious that we don’t need thousands of websites, what we do need is a little trickier. Should there only be one federal website? Is a more practical solution a common set of templates and standards so that sites are better connected to one another and more consistent to the public? A task force will consult with experts from the public and private sector to develop a policy for government websites moving forward. If you’re interested in participating in this process, let us know.
The Federal Trade Commission announced it reached a settlement putting a stop to the deceptive tactics of a Californian internet marketer that allegedly tricked British consumers into believing it was based in the United Kingdom by using websites with CO.UK domains. Under the settlement, the company also is banned from charging consumers for goods until they are in hand and ready to be shipped.The case was brought by the FTC under provisions added to the FTC Act by the U.S. SAFE WEB Act of 2006. SAFE WEB confirmed the agency’s authority to sue U.S.-based wrongdoers who harm consumers abroad, as part of a strategy to prevent the United States from becoming a haven for fraud.According to the FTC, California internet marketer Jaivin Karnani, his company, Balls of Kryptonite, and several associated companies, sold cameras, video games, and other electronic goods to thousands of British consumers. Because the defendants used websites with domain names such as bestpricedbrands.co.uk, bitesizedeals.co.uk, and crazycameras.co.uk, consumers believed they were buying from a company operating in the United Kingdom, and were therefore protected by manufacturer warranties that were valid there.The FTC’s complaint, filed in 2009, alleged that when consumers received the goods, they discovered they had been charged unexpected import duties, were left with invalid warranties, and would be charged draconian cancellation and refund fees if they attempted to return the merchandise. The defendants promised fast shipping dates, but usually did not meet those dates. Without the prior consent of consumers, as required by the FTC’s Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (Mail Order Rule), the defendants allegedly shipped the goods much later than promised. When customers tried to cancel these delayed orders, they were met with stiff resistance, no response at all, or otherwise had difficulty obtaining refunds.The FTC also charged the defendants with deceiving consumers about their participation in the EU/US Safe Harbor Framework – a voluntary international program that provides a means for U.S. companies to transfer data from the European Union to the United States, and to assure European customers that they secure the customers’ personal information as required by EU law.The settlement order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting: the location, quality, quantity, characteristics, and model numbers of products they sell; their compliance with or certification by government-sponsored information security programs; their policies regarding cancellation, exchange, or return; the existence of product warranties; and the total cost of the products sold.The FTC settlement order also prohibits the defendants from violating the Mail Order Rule, and it imposes a $500,000 judgement, which is suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. If it is determined that the financial information the defendants gave the FTC was untruthful, the full amount of the judgement will become due.More information is available from the FTC website here.