Web name registrar bans lewd language

If you want a URL you’d better mind your Ps&Qs – and your S&M

Places like Scunthorpe will have problems registering domain names if US company Network Solutions has its way. The business, which is responsible for registering .com addresses, is refusing to register URLs that include words it deems offensive. This has sparked a legal row with Seven Words, another US company, which claims it is an infringement on freedom of speech. Nancy Huddlestone of Network Solutions told the Sunday Times: "We used to reject domains with ‘shit’ in them. A lot of Japanese words contain that, and in particular a lot of shiitake mushroom growers were upset, so we let them through." Hence the problems innocent locations like Scunthorpe or Arsenal may encounter. Jay Spillane, solicitor for Seven Words, was out flying the flag for places like Middlesex: "In the US we all have a right to free speech, as part of the First Amendment, and this company is not allowing that," she said. "It’s something it just can’t do, and we will fight to get the names released." The names in question have been placed on hold until the result of the court hearing. The words were not named, but were likely to refer to sexual acts. Ivan Pope, founder of UK NetNames that also registers domains, described Network Solutions as a law unto itself. "It pretty much makes up its own rules. It says what is offensive and what isn’t. It was quite happy to register nigger.com, for instance, which is probably far more offensive to people than the names it witholds,” he told the Sunday Times. The US Justice Department is to investigate Network Solutions’ monopoly. The UK has no restrictions on .co.uk domain names. British company Funmail recently registered hundreds of offensive names to stop them falling into the wrong hands. ®

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