Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a tangled Web... Registering domain names makes online politicking tricky

University student Dave Cournoyer is being sued by Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach for having registered as domain name.
Seeing this political cartoon brought back memories of my own online shenanigans from six years ago... My target was the long-serving Mayor of Niagara Falls, Wayne Thomson, who went on to experience a crushing defeat in the 2003 municipal election. Congratulations to Dave Cournoyer for taking on the Alberta Premier. Let's hope Stelmach suffers the same defeat that Thomson did.
From the December 31, 2002 edition of the Niagara Falls Review:

What a tangled Web...: Registering domain names makes online politicking tricky

Corey Larocque
The Review

NIAGARA FALLS - Larry Savage owns "Wayne Thomson."

Savage bought, an Internet domain name he's using to criticize the Niagara Falls mayor online. It's bound to create confusion for Thomson's re-election campaign, which used that Internet address in 2000.

"I don't want voters to forget about the mess the mayor has created down at city hall," said Savage, who has said he does not intend to be a candidate in November's municipal election. The York University student from Niagara Falls has fired political shots from the sidelines for years. When Internet users type in, they're directed to a subdirectory of a Web site Savage created earlier this year. Savage, who fought city hall to keep the ward system, started to criticize council decisions.

The site identifies itself as the "unofficial web site" for Thomson. It mimics a page on the city's official Web site ( that lists Thomson's accomplishments. "In that respect, it's sort of a spoof of his own Web page," Savage said.

Because Web sites are so prominent, computer users often look for sites of celebrities and companies by typing their names and adding the common dot-com suffix.

Thomson said he plans to use a political Web site of his own as part of his re-election campaign, which will begin in early January. Thomson said he believed he would be able to use again because he used it before.

"It looks like an under-handed trick, like we've been dealing wwith the Web site he has set up," Thomson said, reacting to Savage's move.

Savage and Thomson have sparred over the content on Savage's Web site before.

In October, Thomson said he would react appropriately - including taking legal action - when his character is "impugned."

Savage launched the spoof site Friday, just five days before the 2003 campaign period officially begins. Since then, the site has been accessed nearly 200 times, he said.

It lists 13 controversies Thomson has been involved in since 1991. It describes the libel lawsuit against Thomson for his comments about a Chippawa couple in 1998 (Thomson counter-sued and the matter was settled out of court). It criticizes him for negotiating "a poor casino revenue deal" with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

The site also accuses Thomson of contradicting himself at times during council meetings. Savage has also bought the dot-com names for city aldermen Norm Puttick, Selina Volpatti, Victor Pietrangelo and Ken Feren, which link to his main site. It cost Savage about $25 apiece to register all the domain names, he said.

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