[AfrICANN-discuss] More on .cm and wildcards -

Sophia B sophiabekele at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 06:34:00 SAST 2007

Thanks AR.. amazing..and interesting round-up at end.

On 17/06/07, Anne-Rachel Inné <annerachel at gmail.com> wrote:
> http://www.africanpath.com/p_blogEntry.cfm?blogEntryID=1060
> Dibussi Tande
> Technology: How Cameroon Auctioned Its Internet Namespace
> June 16, 2007 11:40 AM
> "It's an odd scene to picture: a domainer's reps in a sit-down with
> Ephraim Inoni, the prime minister of Cameroon, to discuss the power of
> type-in typo traffic and pay-per-click ads." CNN
> Early in August 2006, the Internet was awash with reports of a
> "typo-squatting" scheme involving Cameroon. According to these
> reports, "Internet authorities in in the West African nation that owns
> the .cm top level domain (TLD) have been accused of authorizing a DNS
> wildcard that has the effect of redirecting all accidental .cm traffic
> instead of returning an error."
> In layman's terms, Cameroon Internet authorities were redirecting all
> misspelled .com addressed (e.g. www.dibussi.cm instead of
> www.dibussi.com ) to an advert-based website (agoga.com), where they
> were making millions of dollars in pay-per-click advert revenue
> (Pay-per-click is an advertising system where advertisers pay an
> agreed amount for each click delivered to their site).
> While not technically illegal, since the misspelled domain names are
> not being registered but simply redirected to another site, these
> actions raised serious ethical concerns.
> To many observers, it was obvious that this was too creative a scheme
> to have been hatched by Cameroonian authorities alone. Some even
> believed that the wildcarding of non-registered domains within the .cm
> Top Level Domain may have been done without the official consent of
> Cameroonian authorities. For months, therefore, attempts to identify
> the real faces behind the mask became a veritable whodunit saga.
> This week, CNN finally revealed the person behind the .cm mystery in
> an article titled "The man who owns the Internet". According to the
> article, the brain behind it all is Kevin Ham, described as "the most
> powerful dotcom mogul you've never heard of". Based in the Canadian
> city of Vancouver, Ham's empire is worth about 300 million dollars.
> Even more interesting, the article revealed that Cameroonian
> authorities were active participants and partners in the
> typo-squatting scheme, and that a cut from the adverts revenue
> (estimated by some to be at least three million dollars a year) goes
> to "the government of Cameroon" – yeah right!
> Here is an excerpt from the CNN story:
> "Ham makes money every time someone clicks on an ad -- as does his
> partner in this venture, the West African country of Cameroon. Why
> Cameroon? It has the unforeseen good fortune of owning .cm as its
> country code -- just as Germany runs all names that end with .de. The
> difference is that hardly any .cm names are registered, and the
> letters are just one keyboard slip away from .com, the mother lode of
> all domains. Ham landed connections to the Cameroon government and
> flew in his people to reroute the traffic.
> Over a series of conversations a few weeks later in Vancouver, Ham
> shares some details about a deal that, despite his innate reticence,
> he's clearly proud of. About a year ago, he says, he worked his
> contacts to gain connections to government officials in Cameroon. Then
> he flew several confidantes to Yaoundé, the capital, to make their
> pitch. His key programmer went along to handle the technical details.
> "Hey," Ham says, flagging his techie down near the office elevator.
> "Didn't you meet with the president of Cameroon?"
> "Nah," the programmer says. "We met with the prime minister. But we
> did see the president's compound."
> ...
> It's an odd scene to picture: a domainer's reps in a sit-down with
> Ephraim Inoni, the prime minister of Cameroon, to discuss the power of
> type-in typo traffic and pay-per-click ads. And yet, as with most of
> the angles Ham has played, the Cameroon scheme is ingeniously
> straightforward.
> Ham's people installed a line of software, called a "wildcard," that
> reroutes traffic addressed to any .cm domain name that isn't
> registered. In the case of Cameroon, a country of 18 million with just
> 167,000 computers connected to the Internet that means hundreds of
> millions of names. Type in "paper.cm" and servers owned by Camtel, the
> state-owned company that runs Cameroon's domain registry, redirect the
> query to Ham's Agoga.com servers in Vancouver.
> The servers fill the page with ads for paper and office-supply
> merchants. (Officials at Yahoo confirm that the company serves ads for
> Ham's .cm play.) It all happens in a flash, and since Ham doesn't own
> or register the names, he's not technically typo-squatting, according
> to several lawyers who handle Internet issues.
> The method is spelled out in a patent application filed by a Vancouver
> businessman named Robert Seeman, who Ham says is his partner in the
> venture and who also serves as chief adviser at Reinvent Technology...
> Ham won't reveal specifics but says Agoga receives "in the ballpark"
> of 8 million unique visitors per month...
> Click here to read the complete story
> "A disservice to Cameroon"
> Like most deals that African government officials sign with business
> interests in the West, the typo-squatting deal is not such a sweet one
> for Cameroon, even though a handful of individuals might be reaping
> huge benefits.
> As one blogger pointed out back in February, Cameroon could legally
> use the .cm error to generate legitimate funds destined for internet
> development in the country:
> Setting aside the ethical issue with basically typo-squatting the
> entire .com domain space, this could be a great way for a poor African
> nation to raise some money. However, they could easily boost their
> revenue by building customized landing pages for the most frequently
> accessed domains. For example, amazon.cm should either redirect to the
> Amazon.com affiliate links or a page targeted towards ecommerce. I
> can't even imagine how much money they are leaving on the table. The
> folks at NameView.com, who appear to be providing the landing pages,
> are doing them a huge disservice here.
> Even more critical has been Enow Ebot Godwill, a Cameroonian
> performance analyst based in Denmark, whose analysis of the Camtel
> deal has been widely distributed on the Internet in the past couple of
> days:
> "If CAMTEL can make money from people mistyping their domains, I'm all
> for it. The problem that I have is that the situation has led to a
> perverse effect with CAMTEL making NO EFFORT to manage the .CM
> registry and promote a real development of the Internet in Cameroon.
> The "quick buck" mentality has prevailed once again. Well known
> Cameroon-centric websites such as Cameroon-info.net, postnewsline.com,
> camerounlink.net, camfoot.com, and dozens of others who are the real
> actors of Cameroon's presence on the Internet are priced out of their
> own country's .CM which costs a whopping $400 to $800/year while one
> can register a .COM name for less than $10 or even get it free with
> hosting...
> As a result, the .CM domain is virtually absent in cyberspace, just as
> if Cameroon didn't even exist! The reality is that, with CAMTEL making
> money from unregistered .CM domains, it has no incentive to increase
> the number of registered .CM domain names. The majority of emails
> originating and terminating in Cameroon are hosted on .FR, .COM and
> other registries because no alternative is being developed in the
> country. Again, when you redo the math, the cost in bandwidth to the
> country for email traffic hosted outside far outweighs any gain CAMTEL
> might have from its .CM shenanigans.
> This literally means that the shameless sale of Cameroonian patrimony
> has extended to cyberspace the same way other Cameroonian assets are
> being often ILLEGALLY disposed of by those in charge of developing
> them. In the meantime there is no serious Internet policy in Cameroon
> more than 15 years after the creation of the world-wide-web.
> Definitely another black eye for Cameroon...
> Read Ham's feature on Business 2.0
> _______________________________________________
> AfrICANN mailing list
> AfrICANN at afrinic.net
> https://lists.afrinic.net/mailman/listinfo.cgi/africann
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: https://lists.afrinic.net/pipermail/africann/attachments/20070617/11405ea7/attachment-0001.htm

More information about the AfrICANN mailing list