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Tiny Pacific islands target TinyURL territory

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Desert island risks?

Dot TK's smarter approach is to offer the domains for free on the condition that it retains technical ownership, and can serve targeted Yahoo! ads in an unobtrusive bar at the top.

Beckoning the cash

The twist is the one-click registration system it has developed. It means that .tk domains are being pitched as a rival to tinyURL.com, the popular web service which shortens long addresses to make them more friendly with links like tinyURL.com/1ab2c3. Except, Zuurbier says with Dot TK, "you can communicate it much easier to your friends."

A box at www.dot.tk invites you to paste in an ugly web address. Click the button and the server examines the page's contents to generate an automated address. For example, with tinyURL the messy eBay address for Tuesday's story about someone hawking a way to become invisible becomes tinyURL.com/2ou7a5. When we stuck it in Dot TK, it churned out becomeinvisible.tk.

Pretty nifty, and much easier to remember down the pub. Of course, if you have something in particular in mind you don't have to submit to the machines' caprice. The links stay live as long as 25 people visit every 90 days.

Soon after Dot TK got rolling it was accused by security vendors of providing a haven for malware. As recently as March this year it was described by McAfee as "the world's riskiest domain" with 10 per cent of pages hosting nasties. Zuurbier says the label was simplistically applied because Dot TK allowed pop-ups on sites. It has now banned them, along with dodgy content such as porn and extremist propaganda that the islands' chiefs don't want to be associated with.

All 300 homes in Tokelau are connected to the phone network, and community internet centres connect the 1,500 inhabitants with the wider world for free via satellite broadband. Aukusitino Vitale, general manager of Teletok, the islands' own telco, said the firm has seen a 40 per cent drop in use of the voice network from islanders using VoIP services like Skype to keep in touch with the 8,000 natives who have left the atolls. Social networking sites are becoming popular too: "Everyone wants to use these services," he said.

For Tokelau itself, Dot TK might just allow it to avoid being overrun with well-meaning but ultimately damaging tourists. Only about 30 are allowed onto the islands each year. "We try not to get too many," Vitale said. "Call it eco-tourism." ®

Bootnote

Goatse.tk is already taken, sadly. We checked. Some chancer's grabbed theregister.tk too.

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