27 Percent of U.S. Congressional Members’ Domain Names Used in Identity Squatting, CADNA Report Finds

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2012 – A report released today by the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) finds that 27 percent of congressional members’ domain names are used in identity squatting. Like businesses, members of Congress face the challenges of delivering authorized online content and protecting their names on the Internet. Overall, CADNA found that members of Congress own only 31 percent of the domain names examined in this report.

CADNA measured the extent to which identity squatting – the practice by which individuals register domain names, containing the names of famous persons, in bad faith – occurs among the most intuitive .COM and .ORG domain names related to the current 535 members of the U.S. Congress. These websites are typically used for campaigning and providing access to personal stories, since all members of Congress are allowed to use a .GOV domain as their official government site.

“The 27 percent of domain names that are owned by third parties can damage a politician’s reputation and cause confusion for Internet users,” CADNA President Josh Bourne explained. “Cybersquatting can be hugely detrimental for businesses, resulting in lost sales, fewer impressions, and tainted reputations, and identity squatting can prove similarly costly for members of Congress, whose reputations can suffer because of misinformation and confusion among constituents.”

Compared to the results CADNA found in its 2010 report, this year more sites in nearly every category are now owned by the politicians themselves and host official content. Members of Congress own an average of 1.86 related domain names this year, compared to just 1.5 in 2010. For more results and the full report, please visit cadna.org.

Before publishing the report, CADNA contacted the offices of all 535 members of Congress to inform them of the domain names it had examined and the status of each. CADNA has received word that members of Congress have already registered a number of the domain names that they did not previously own.

“We are very pleased to have been able to decrease the opportunity for identity squatters to exploit the names of these members of Congress,” said Bourne, “We hope to continue to work with Congress to address identity squatting, as well as the broader issue of cybersquatting.”

CADNA’s report also examined how candidates and third parties are proactively registering domains related to slogans and sound bites that have emerged from the presidential campaigns; for example “ObamaIsntWorking.com” and “Romneys47Percent.com”.