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Rhode Island Man Locks Up Campaign Websites Ahead of 2014 Elections

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

 

Brad Shipp isn’t a household name in Rhode Island politics, but it might not be long before Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo, Allan Fung and other leading potential candidates for statewide office in 2014 come calling.

Why?

He might be sitting on their campaign websites.

Shipp owns the rights to approximately 100 web domains, including angelforgovernor.com, ginaforgovernor.com, fungforgovernor.com and mollisforltgovernor.com. He also owns ginaforsenate.com, raimondoforcongress.com, cicillineforsenate.com, Kilmartinforcongress.com, kilmartinforsenate.com, kilmartinforgovernor.com and langevinforsenate.com.

“I have no pecuniary ambitions and registered them just to see what would happen,” Shipp told GoLocalProv. “So far I’ve been disappointed.”

But while Shipp, says he’s not looking to cash in, cybersquatting, as it is commonly called, can be profitable. In 2011, an Emory University student sold huntsmanforpresident.com for somewhere in the four figures. A June article from CNN Money noted that some squatters have already begun locking up domain names ahead of the 2020 Presidential race.

Aside from looking to profit from the websites, cybersquatters have also been known to cause headaches for some politicians. In 2009, former eBay CEO and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman sued a man who owned several web domains that included her name (California actually has a law that protects potential political candidates from cybersquatters). The consulting website onlinecandidate.com has even written about how to deal with cybersquatters.

But Shipp, a registered Democrat, says he has no plans for any of the domains he currently owns.

“I have never sold a domain name but I am familiar with the process,” Shipp said. “For me, it’s just a hobby, like collecting stamps. I never expect to make any money from it.”

As for how he chooses which domains to purchase, Shipp maintains he has zero inside knowledge.

“It’s really just a whim, or a casual conversation with a friend, or a day dream,” he said. “There’s no secret machination behind it.”

Dan McGowan can be reached at dmcgowan@golocalprov.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.

 

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