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Daring Register raid snatches key government URL

May swap for bag of crisps or similar

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Updated On Friday the UK government announced a joint industry-government marketing strategy designed to promote the UK's expertise in Information Communication Technology (ICT). The strategy, said Trade & Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones, "is a catalyst to stimulate discussion amongst Government and business about how we sell the UK ICT sector to the world."

And it is so well thought out, the marketing so thoroughly joined up, that over the weekend a crack team of Register cybersquatters was able to seize control of what we take to be a key campaign URL. Ordinarily the government demonstrates the UK's brilliance at ICT by filling its press releases with links that don't work - but inserting ones that it hasn't even bothered to buy is possibly a new low.

If you take a look at the announcement, here,* where Lord Jones tells us more than a million jobs depend on the success of the UK ICT sector, and explains how a marketing strategy board made up of industry and government figures will drive the initiative, you'll see a URL down at the bottom. There, according to UKTI, you'll get further information about the marketing strategy, plus information about "how to participate in the consultation."

What consultation? That's a puzzle, given that there are only two references to "the consultation" in the release, and no explanation of what the consultation's about. Brilliant marketing or what? 'What?', probably... Anyway, check out www.ictmarketingstrategy.co.uk and you'll see somebody does own it. Do a whois if you like, but trust us, it's The Register.

A more detailed excavate of the UKTI site does however explain the consultation.* Here Lord Jones tells us that UK firms are to be asked for their views on how the industry should sell itself over the next five years, and that UKTI has "a draft for consultation and I hope as many people as possible will let us know their views". If they wish to do so, or to "view the evidence gathered by UKTI", they are told they should visit www.ictmarketingstrategy.co.uk. You'll note that this release, dated 16th November, tells us the consultation URL will be "functional as of 19 November 2007". Splendid, chaps, the colonials will no doubt be shocked and awed by your undoubted skills in how all of this stuff works.

So what do we do with the damn URL now? Frankly, that's a puzzle, and given that nobody's been using it or even boasting about it particularly, we're not sure that us grabbing it even counts as cybersquatting. But it's not as if it's even close to a snazzy, attractive name, so if Lord Jones would care to offer us the market value (bag of crisps or similar), then we'll be more than happy to help him out. Or on the other hand, maybe we could just crack ahead with the consultation ourselves, seeing the UK government seems not to be able to get it together. ®

* The marketing gurus at UKTI may not be very good at reading their own press releases, but they seem to be pretty sharp about reading The Register - which is gratifying. Just a couple of hours on from our publishing this story, both the press releases referring to ictmarketingstrategy.co.uk have been altered to refer to the even less compelling www.ukictmarketingstrategy.co.uk. There, you will note, UKTI has come up with the interesting approach of requiring registration before you even get to read the cunning plan for selling UK ICT to the world, far less get to comment on it. Open Government? Rings a bell...

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