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First Arrest Made In US Under Truth In Domain Names Act

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

09 September 2003


Notorious 'typosquatter' John Zuccarini was arrested in the United States last Wednesday on charges of creating misleading domain names in order to trap unwary internet users into viewing pornography.

Zuccarini stands accused of registering more than 3,000 misleading domain names, many based on common typographical errors (for example, dinseyland.com), which were set up for the sole purpose of directing users to websites advertising pornography.

In addition to this, according to federal prosecutors, once the websites were accessed, clicking on the close button would actually have the opposite effect, opening other, similar web pages.

This case represents the first arrest under the US Truth in Domain Names Act which came into effect in April. If convicted, Zuccarini could face a four year custodial sentence and a $250,000 fine.

In a statement, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James Comey announced that:

'The defendant is accused of taking advantage of children's common mistakes, and using that to profit by leading them by the hand into the seediest and most repugnant corners of cyberspace. His alleged actions are not clever but criminal.' He went on to add that: 'We cannot imagine a better way for this law to be used for the first time.'

However, some experts have warned that a conviction under the new Act is not a sure thing, suggesting that the vague definition of a 'misleading domain name' could present constitutional problems under the terms of the First Amendment.


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