Boris Johnson winning race to combat cybersquatters

LONDON - Boris Johnson has been more proactive in protecting his online image than any other candidate in the mayoral elections as cybersquatters attempt to cash in on consumers looking for information on the three main candidates.

In the weeks building up to next week's election day, cybersquatters have been registering dozens of key domain names relating to the candidates representing the three main political parties.

The online speculators have been furnishing the domain names with lucrative pay-per click advertising websites designed to make money from unsuspecting voters.

Livingstone and Johnson are the subject of most of the activity, but speculators are targeting the two main candidates in very different ways, with Livingstone the subject of negative cybersquatting, with domains registered such as www.ihatekenlivingstone.org and www.kenlivingstone.org.

The former boasts an image of Livingstone as a cowboy and the headline "Do you really want to pay for Ken Livingstone and his cronies?"

However, in instances where Johnson has fallen victim to cybersquatting, the sites are either straight forward click farms that feature pay-per click ads or websites campaigning for the Conservative candidate such as independent supporters site www.borisjohnson.net.

Meanwhile, numerous other domain names relating to Livingstone and Johnson have been snapped up by cybersquatters in anticipation of the election, including www.kenlivingstone.net and www.mayorborisjohnson.com.

Johnson appears to be the most proactive of the candidates at protecting his brand online, with no fewer than 10 domain names pointing to his official site www.backboris.com.

This suggests the Tories have learned from a previous experience involving a spoof of David Cameron's video blog 'Web Cameron' created by Labour MP Sion Simon.

Jonathan Robinson, the chief operating officer at NetNames, a domain name management firm, said: "With two such high profile London Mayor candidates like Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, cybersquatters and online speculators are bound to be waiting in the wings to register campaign relevant domains.

"It is very hard to stop negative websites and click farms springing up, but by leaving obvious domains unregistered, the candidates have provided a route for cybersquatters to make money from unsuspecting voters looking for official campaign information."