Veteran California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has been a staunch activist against assault weapons throughout her tenure on Capitol Hill, but a domain name featuring her name will soon tell a different story. Dimitrios Karras, the CEO of the California gun parts and accessories store Ares Armor, registered SenatorFeinstein.com and will use the site to promote gun rights, reports The Daily Caller.
The basic page already features articles supporting gun rights and links to petitions to charge Feinstein with treason, but the headline suggests that more content is coming, reading "COMING SOON! Senator Feinstein's Biggest Fan Page!" Elsewhere on the site, Karras says "gun owners strike back," filling what he thought was a void for opponents of Feinstein whose comments on official Facebook pages were often scrutinized.
Karras calls the registration and counterintuitive use of Feinstein's name "funny" and "an entertaining thing," suggesting levity, but it's clear that the matter is important to him. His business is based on the firearms industry, and new legislation against assault weapons, as Feinstein has promised, could affect his livelihood.
Karras registered the page in early January, along with domain names related to other politicians, including California's other Senator, Democrat Barbara Boxer. Because he is using the site as a gripe site and not assuming Feinstein's likeness, he is within his legal rights in terms of domain name ownership, and he sees this as a way to bring attention to the issue and allow both sides to discuss the issues openly.
This, of course, is not the first time someone has used a politician's name to voice a contrarian point of view, but Karras's move is especially relevant given the increased attention that firearms legislation is receiving following a spate of gun violence in 2012. His ultimate vision for the site remains to be seen, but Feinstein could have avoided this situation by proactively registering this intuitive domain name.
Zut alors! According to The Guardian, identity squatting is no longer a problem that only American politicians face. It appears that French squatters have a certain savoir faire for the practice as well, and it extends all the way up to the office of Prime Minister. When users type in FrancoisFillon.fr, instead of landing on the site for French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, they are redirected to FrancoisHollande.fr, the site for presidential candidate Francois Hollande.
And what about the current French president, who is seeking reelection next May? Well, NicolasSarkozy2012.fr points to a tattoo artist's site, and Karachigate.fr (the nickname given to the scandal over a corrupt arms deal from earlier this year) redirects to the site of the Elysée Palace, the French equivalent to the U.S. White House.
But the biggest difference between the U.S. and France when it comes to identity squatting is the pénalité involved. Here, the French add a certain je ne sais quoi, to the tune of jail time and a fine. The country introduced an anti-cybersquatting law last March that goes beyond simply protecting trademarks and intellectual property. The law deems the act of stealing another person's identity "to attack their honor" punishable by up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of €15,000, or about $20,000. Sacre bleu!