take your business elsewhere
April 11, 2003 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Last week some friends of mine launched terroristidkit.com to, as they put it, "[poke] fun at the racial profiling, loss of civil liberties and terrorist paranoia that is sweeping the US." Five days later Register.com seized their domain and refuses to explain why, despite the fact that they complied with two requests for identity verification and even called Register.com to talk about it; after putting them on hold for twenty minutes, Register.com put the phone down. Today the domain is now owned by Register.com. What the hell is going on?
posted by lia (52 comments total)
 
(Please note that you can now see everything that was on the original domain at terroridkit.com, which they bought from another registrar after terroristidkit.com was seized.)
posted by lia at 6:30 PM on April 11, 2003


Actually, it sounds as though there might have been some problem with the payment. If there were two requests for identity verification, that itself makes this unusual - and would lead me to believe someone was trying to do something at least slightly odd (such as masking their identity, or giving payment information that had something peculiar about it). Register (like most domain registers) has the following policy:

"In the event of a charge back by a credit card company (or similar action by another payment provider allowed by us) or other non-payment by you in connection with your payment of the applicable service fee, you acknowledge and agree that the domain name registration for which such fee has not been paid shall be transferred to Register.com as the entity that has paid the applicable fee to the registry, and that we reserve all rights regarding such domain name registration including, without limitation, the right to make the domain name registration available to other parties for purchase."

I'm sure it would be more exciting if there was some deep conspiracy to silence the voices of dissent, but I'd say this will likely turn out to be something far more mundane.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:53 PM on April 11, 2003


~The Internet is not a right, it is a privilege.~

It is one thing to pull the plug on someone for any number of reasons, but there is no justification for refusing to explain why. Disturbing. Sad.
posted by thirteen at 6:58 PM on April 11, 2003


Don't know about the register.com issue, but I think world hasn't lost much and will not gain much by visiting that site. I wonder what kind of kit is needed to identify this shade of problem before it happens.
posted by elpapacito at 7:00 PM on April 11, 2003


Got an IP address? terroridkit.com doesn't resolve for me, and the authoritative name server on record knows nothing about it...
posted by rogue at 7:06 PM on April 11, 2003


Actually, it sounds as though there might have been some problem with the payment.

Except there wasn't -- Michael paid for the site with his own credit card, and faxed them his government-issued id and a written statement authorizing the payment as Register.com requested when they requested. His name on the credit card is the same as on his passport is the same as the name he signed on his letter. So where's the problem there?
posted by lia at 7:08 PM on April 11, 2003


Sounds to me that the requests for identity verification was just a run-around they gave them before cutting them off - there's nothing to suggest that there was anything unusual about the monetary transaction.

Also, they appear to deliberately avoid contact with this customer - not a sign that they want to clear the whole thing up.

Needless to say, I won't be doing business with register.com before a satisfactory explanation is provided.

On a lighter note, the terroridkit.com site is quite funny.
posted by spazzm at 7:10 PM on April 11, 2003


hehe. funny. Let me see if I can follow this though. . .

1) "Lets create a site to offend people!"
2) "Holy sh*t!, somebody got offended!"

And I'm supposed to be suprised because of why?
posted by tiamat at 7:18 PM on April 11, 2003


do you think they should've lost their web page, simply because someone was offended?
posted by mcsweetie at 7:28 PM on April 11, 2003


tiamat: There's a difference between being offended someone and censoring them. It's as if you tried to buy a phone, but because the verizon representative didn't like the tone of your voice refused to sell you one.
posted by djacobs at 7:29 PM on April 11, 2003


terroridkit.com is a laff riot!

Mass murderers are always comedy gold.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:31 PM on April 11, 2003


There may not be some some deep conspiracy to silence the voices of dissent but there are a lot of people out there using their position and influence to punish anyone who talks out of turn these days. It's not that much of leap in the current climate to think that some person at Register.com took exception to what these people were trying to do and is giving them a hard time, in a passive-aggressive sort of way.
posted by xiffix at 7:32 PM on April 11, 2003


Hate to say it, but merchants have the right to refuse service. That being said, we have the right to refuse to do business with those merchants.

So, it's an easy issue to clear up - don't do business with
Register.com. You don't like how they do business, don't do business with them.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:32 PM on April 11, 2003


Actually, it sounds as though there might have been some problem with the payment.

Except there wasn't -- Michael paid for the site with his own credit card, and faxed them his government-issued id and a written statement authorizing the payment as Register.com requested when they requested. His name on the credit card is the same as on his passport is the same as the name he signed on his letter. So where's the problem there?


The name means nothing ... the address and phone number provided have to also match. If Register asked for all of that additional material, it makes it sound even more like something odd is going on. Has he checked with his credit card company? Has Register actually charged (or attempted to charge) his card? That would be the first thing I'd try to find out.

Remember, before you condemn too quickly, that credit card charges place 100% of the risk on the merchant - the burden of proof is on them - and internet fraud is a huge issue for online businesses.

Sounds to me that the requests for identity verification was just a run-around they gave them before cutting them off - there's nothing to suggest that there was anything unusual about the monetary transaction.

Sweet Jesus, everything about this monetary transaction sounds unusual.

Also, they appear to deliberately avoid contact with this customer - not a sign that they want to clear the whole thing up.
Needless to say, I won't be doing business with register.com before a satisfactory explanation is provided.


Er, how much business have you done with any registrars? Register.com is, on the whole, way better than Network Solutions (who for years didn't even have a phone number to call, and who might, or might not, respond to emails).

The thought (or implication) that it might be because of the nature of the domain name, or the content of the site, is just wrong. These people don't even look at that level of things (a parody or satire site that might get a few hundred hits a day is going to disturb them so deeply that that they first give him a big runaround, then avoid him like he's a big deal? Good grief ... these guys probably registered a couple dozen sites explicitly showing sorority girls fisting horses on that same day ... they don't give a shit about the sites themselves).

I repeat - it sounds as though their system kicked up a potential identity/payment problem, people got involved that asked for information, and something still struck them as not quite right.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:43 PM on April 11, 2003


I would not think it's beyond the current myopic, security-minded outlook to think they suspected actual terrorists might put up a site called 'terroristidkits.com.'

Real terrorists are...well...they're freaking terrorists, specializing in stealth, duplicity and mayhem. If they're supposed to be able to build bombs and smuggle WMDs, don't you think they might come up with something a little less revealing that 'terrorostidkits.com?' This is like checking everyone randomly entering a building for a driver's license. A terrorist could never get one of those. No way. And some wonder why so many think "security" is an empty boondoggle for giving free rein to the smug, totalitarian instincts of the small-minded.

Of course, I could be wrong: but those molehills will never get to be mountains if people like me don't hurry things along.
posted by umberto at 7:47 PM on April 11, 2003


Sweet Jesus, everything about this monetary transaction sounds unusual.

What, exactly?
Except the fact that register.com refuses to acknowledge it, of course.

Er, how much business have you done with any registrars?

3 or 4, I honestly can't remember. I mostly stick to small-time registrars, because they seem to be less likely to shaft their customers up the arse, like registrar.com here is doing.
Why do you ask?
posted by spazzm at 7:55 PM on April 11, 2003


Unusual payment processing issues aside, I still find it odd that register.com would snatch ownership of the domain in the short time span described in the timeline we've been linked to. Working as a registrar reseller (*cough*OpenSRSrules*cough*) myself and dealing with people at register.com frequently, I think that's a fairly drastic and extraordinary step for them to take.

Something's up, in any case.

Of course if it turns out that register.com snatched the whole domain because they got nervous about or didn't like the content displayed under it will be something far more interesting to discuss than a credit card snafu.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:01 PM on April 11, 2003


And anyway, why didn't register.com put this domain in a registrar-hold or -lock status?

Again, assuming ownership of the domain is rawther drawstic.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:08 PM on April 11, 2003


Sounds like somebody should get their lawsuit on...
posted by ph00dz at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2003




I feel so much safer now!
posted by delmoi at 8:28 PM on April 11, 2003


lia, midasmulligan, spazzm, et al - what is it about the internet that makes people talk as if they're characters in a Kafka novel? You can't figure out what the crime is or where the castle where you might find the truth at may be. "They've censored it!" "Your documents were not in order." "They never answer their messages!" "You must have done something wrong!" "It must have been what I said." "I gave them my documents everytime I asked for them." "Did they really do anything?" "I waited at the desk for hours and no one showed ..."

Who are they anyway and what do they really do?

Not a flame or taking sides - just a rather disturbed observation.
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2003


I repeat - it sounds as though their system kicked up a potential identity/payment problem, people got involved that asked for information, and something still struck them as not quite right.

I used to have a domain with the name listed as Shmooey McShmoo. I currently have a domain with the address listed as 1 Avenue Ln, Townsville, TN.

Or something like that. I don't remember, because I filled in gibberish. I think most people fill in gibberish. If they were going to crack down on people giving inaccurate information, the internet would shut down.

But maybe they did just randomly check this guy and something came up weird. Why hang up on him? Why not give him some information?

Ultimately this HAS to come down to the fact that they were uncomfortable with the content of his site -- and they're perfectly within their rights to pull the plug for that reason -- but that's what it almost certainly is, so why pretend it's not? The only thing we can do is complain that they're oversensitive dorks who don't get it, after all.
posted by Hildago at 9:24 PM on April 11, 2003


MidasMulligan: Sweet Jesus, everything about this monetary transaction sounds unusual.

What exactly are you talking about?

pyramid_termite: what is it about the internet that makes people talk as if they're characters in a Kafka novel?

Cute, but I think you owe the internet an apology -- have you watched FOX News any time in the past few years? Or one of Ari Fleischer's press conferences? Kafkaesque dialogue is everywhere in the real world these days.
posted by lia at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2003


Who are they anyway and what do they really do?

I can't speak for MidasMulligan, but when I say "they" in this thread I mean either register.com or terroridkit.com, depending on context.

Register.com is an internet registrar that appear to be engaging in some not very user-friendly activities.
Terroridkit.com is a joke site.

It thought this would be clear from the context, but if I have done anything to obfuscate the meaning of the word "they" - please accept my apologies.
posted by spazzm at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2003


(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
they pronoun
1 used as the subject of a verb to refer to people, animals or things already mentioned or, more generally, to a group of people not clearly described:
I've known the Browns for a long time. They're very pleasant people.
What's wrong with this registrar? They refuse to answer my calls.
They (= People who know) say things will be better in the new year.


Okay, I made part of that up, but it's appropriate, IMHO.
posted by spazzm at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2003


lia, did the guy get a refund for the payment, since they took control of the domain?
posted by mathowie at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2003


You'd think if Register.com had a problem with either a.) the content of the site (less likely, for the reasons MM gives), or b.) any kind of payment/monetary issue, they'd have gotten in touch with the people registering the domain. I think wanting a letter from Register.com acknowledging and explaining their decision is the least that your friends can expect, lia.

On preview, what mathowie said. If they take your money, they should give you the domain. If they don't give you the domain, they shouldn't take your money.
posted by Vidiot at 9:59 PM on April 11, 2003


No disrespect, but I think most of you are missing lia's point. It's not about money. It's about appropriation, preponderance [in Portuguese prepotĂȘncia] and irresponsibility.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:43 PM on April 11, 2003


Of course, the $35 or whatever Register charges isn't the biggest issue here. I think people in this thread are reacting based on the qualities you mention, Miguel. But the money is the consideration given for the domain -- a contract existed, the contract has evidently been broken by one of the parties involved, and the agreement's goal has not materialized.
posted by Vidiot at 12:03 AM on April 12, 2003


these guys probably registered a couple dozen sites explicitly showing sorority girls fisting horses on that same day ... they don't give a shit about the sites themselves

Huh. Nice analogy, MidasMulligan, except pictures of sorority girls fisting horses doesn't pack nearly the punch in these terror-stricken days as political satire does. They (i.e., Registrar.com) may not give a shit about the porn sites, but it seems nearly every right-winger with a modicum of power believes it is his or her sacred duty to squash all dissent, no matter how innocuous or satirical.

It may not be "censorship," but it does bear the stench of the foul wind of nascent fascism that is blowing through our country.

I long for a little more civility and intelligence in public discourse. Stop seeing people with opposing viewpoints as enemies to be demolished. Start seeing them as human beings who are passionate about their beliefs, people motivated by a desire to do right.

If we could develop a sense of humor tempered with solemnity, detachment coupled with empathy, wisdom coupled with humility, we'd all be a hell of a lot better off.

(I realize I sound kind of pompous right now. It was either that, or tell all the people who think what Registrar.com did is okay to go fuck themselves.)
posted by spacewaitress at 12:54 AM on April 12, 2003


> merchants have the right to refuse service

You're missing the point. Its not like the ISP gave them a 30 day notice to find a new ISP, but the registrar (who controls domain names) took the domain name as its own propertly, if the story is true that is.

If register.com did do these things then its not only censorship but theft. Get a lawyer.
posted by skallas at 1:47 AM on April 12, 2003


every right-winger with a modicum of power believes it is his or her sacred duty to squash all dissent

I hereby demand that spacewaitress's comment be dutifully squashed!! Squashed, do you hear me !? I said: SQUASHED!!

Why isn't it squashed?

These register.com people owe an explanation at least for why the domain was yanked. Maybe when they do, we'll know what happened. 'Till then we'll have to guess that; A) they didn't see the potential of knee-slappingly hilarious 'satire' about insane criminals who mass-murder Americans, or B) Didn't get the joke and were afraid, or got the joke and *didn't laugh*, C) Are fascist jackbooted thugs who seek to "squash dissent" in order to further their conspiratorial agenda to rid the internet of any information containing the word "terrorist", or D) Made an administrative mistake and haven't the faintest idea there is any problem at all, because of disorganization on a Friday night or Saturday morning. Or maybe it was ladies night at the Holiday Inn.

And anyway the site's up, so the jackbooted thugs clearly dropped the ball. It's damned hard to sprint in jackboots.
posted by hama7 at 1:47 AM on April 12, 2003


Metafilter: what is it about the internet that makes people talk as if they're characters in a Kafka novel?
posted by skallas at 1:47 AM on April 12, 2003


>anyway the site's up, so the jackbooted thugs clearly dropped the ball.

Its not up for me and the WHOIS information is still pointing to register.com

C:\>ping terroristidkit.com
Unknown host terroristidkit.com.
posted by skallas at 1:49 AM on April 12, 2003


KILLALLTERRORISTS.COM is open for anyone that wants it.
posted by password at 2:16 AM on April 12, 2003


Wait, but that'd pro-US administration. That doesn't count, right?

They'll probably put me on an FBI list, but I'm thinkin' about blowin' shit up.
posted by password at 2:19 AM on April 12, 2003


Its not up for me and the WHOIS information is still pointing to register.com

It's up according to lia's second link.

Incidentally, wasn't lia in the Philippines like fifteen minutes ago, and now she's logging in from NYC?
posted by hama7 at 2:26 AM on April 12, 2003


Different urls. terroridkit.com is up, terroristidkit.com is not.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:32 AM on April 12, 2003


lia: yes, the spirit of Kafka lives on everywhere in the world, but it seems to concentrate itself wonderfully well on the net

spazzm: I was speaking of the generic They - you know - They who control the world, They who make the decisions, They who know the real story and won't tell it - THEM! I should have been clearer on that ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:56 AM on April 12, 2003


as should THEY . . .
posted by divrsional at 7:01 AM on April 12, 2003


I dunno, would this work on I.R.A. terrorists? Basque Seperatists? The FLQ? Flaming Monkeys with Lazer Vision? I thought not.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2003


lia, did the guy get a refund for the payment, since they took control of the domain?

Matt - exactly. During this thread I've seen several folks immediately jump to the conclusion that Register was somehow "censoring" content they didn't like. This seems just bizarre ... that's just not how the big Registrars work.

If this woman and her friend are relatively new to registration, and are honestly attempting to discern what happened, the first step to take would be for the fellow to contact his credit card company and see 1) whether they had charged his card, and then credited it; 2) whether they had attempted to charge his card, and were unable to; or 3) they had not attempted to charge his card at all.

In other words, there's at least some chance that it is the credit card company, not Register, that is the cause of the trouble (if they refused the charges, for instance, then Register is absolutely in the right ... both to take the domain away, and to refuse to talk to the guy ... (if they believe some sort of fraud is going on, the do not want to educate someone that might be attempting fraud as to what their processes for catching it are).

Second, there's also a chance the the guy himself is to blame. If he moved, or is staying somewhere for awhile, and did not update his information with the credit card company, that would trigger alarms.

Third, it sounds as though he is not a US resident ... where is he from? If there was some difficulty with identity, and he happens to be from a country that is known to initiate an inordinately high amount of the fraud on the internet (e.g., some eastern bloc nations, some Carribean islands, the Phillipines, Malaysia, & etc.), or the issuing bank is located in one of those countries, all sorts of alarms would get triggered.

Huh. Nice analogy, MidasMulligan, except pictures of sorority girls fisting horses doesn't pack nearly the punch in these terror-stricken days as political satire does. They (i.e., Registrar.com) may not give a shit about the porn sites, but it seems nearly every right-winger with a modicum of power believes it is his or her sacred duty to squash all dissent, no matter how innocuous or satirical.

Actually, the evidence from this thread is that every left-winger with a MeFi account believes it is his or her sacred duty to immediately blame everything possible on right-wingers. There is no evidence to even hint that content has a damn thing to do with this situation ... and at least some evidence to suggest that there was an identity/payment issue with the guy's credit card. It is interesting how quickly several people here leaped to the conclusion that it is "censorship", that the situation came about because some right-wing group operating within Register didn't like the guy's profound satire. Sheesh. This thread itself could almost be a parody of left-wing extremism.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2003


You mean every left winger that has bothered to comment. There's a self-selection process here that makes generalisations pretty pointless. Otherwise god alone know's what conclusions we'd have to draw about the right-wing.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2003


MidasM - you're grasping at straws here. Let it go.
posted by spazzm at 11:26 AM on April 12, 2003


squashing dissent, spazzm?
posted by techgnollogic at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2003


You mean every left winger that has bothered to comment. There's a self-selection process here that makes generalisations pretty pointless. Otherwise god alone know's what conclusions we'd have to draw about the right-wing.

Yes - you are correct ... in fact most left-leaning people probably do not believe there is censorship of some sort going on here. I was merely responding with the same generality used by the folks talking about "right-wingers", who are being portrayed as fanatics that actually sit at Register and (apparently) look over every one of the several thousand registrations that happen daily, check them to see whether they might have the wrong political orientation, and if they do, put the registrants through several days of hassle before siezing their registrations altogether (which, really, is about as absurd a notion as it is possible to think up).

MidasM - you're grasping at straws here. Let it go.

Actually, I'm asserting what is the most likely explanation for the facts as they've been presented. The people grasping at straws are the ones desperately trying to pin this on some right-wing conspiracy.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2003


This is all a bunch of pointless conjecture. On both sides.

Want to find out if there's really a conspiracy? Someone fork out the $35 to register terroristsareus.com and see if it goes through. Otherwise we're just writing a work of collaborative conspiracy-theory fiction here.
posted by mmoncur at 4:20 PM on April 12, 2003


Metafilter: writing a work of collaborative conspiracy-theory fiction
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:15 PM on April 12, 2003


Are we talking about squash, squash, squash or quash?

The revolution will be semantically obfuscated.
posted by hama7 at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2003


I can't remember who said this, but I believe it was Napoleon:
"Do not attribute to malice what can be adequately explained to malice."

So no, I don't think there's a right-wing conspiracy involved here, I think register.com is a bunch of incompetents.
posted by spazzm at 8:42 PM on April 12, 2003


I also find it amusing to observe the logic of some people:
1st guy: "Wow, company X is treating person Y unfairly. Also, person Y has a non-mainstream view on a current political issue."
2nd guy: "It's all a big right-wing conspiracy to you, isn't it? Don't forget your tinfoil hat! Ha-ha! Been anal-probed by any aliens lately? Ha-ha!"
posted by spazzm at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2003


Dammit, that's supposed to be:
"Do not attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence."

Ironically, it was not ill will that made me misquote the emperor, only plain stupidity.
posted by spazzm at 8:48 PM on April 12, 2003


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