Has it really been a whole year?

i-e7a12c3d2598161273c9ed31d61fe694-ClassicInsolence.jpgOne year ago today, I discovered a rather amusing bit of chicanery on the part of an old “friend,” namely J. B. Handley, the proprietor of and driving force behind Generation Rescue, the group that claims that all autism (not just some, not just some, but all) is a “misdiagnosis” for mercury poisoning. Given that today is one year later to the day, I thought it would be amusing to repost this. And, yes, one year later to the day, the domain oracknows.com still redirects to Generation Rescue, although, shamed, J. B. did stop having the domain autismdiva.com redirect to GR.

INTERNET SQUATTER: J. B. HANDLEY

I hadn’t been planning on posting today. Instead I had been intending to devote today solely to finishing up a pesky grant application that’s nearing completion but needs a lot of polishing. Unfortunately, something came up. I tell ya, I sleep in a bit on a day off before taking on the task of trying to finish a grant, wake up to check my e-mail, and what do I find?

A reader (whom I wish to thank publicly and profusely) tipping me off to a dirty trick, that’s what. This reader, apparently, mistakenly typed “www.oracknows.com” into her browser and found herself redirected to the Generation Rescue website, you remember, the site that states:

Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.

I was actually somewhat surprised to learn of this little bit of tricky cybersquatting, mainly because less than a month ago I had stated in a post that I was thinking of moving over to a new blogging platform and hoped to do so before my first blogiversary. Around that same time, I had checked to see if the domain name oracknows.com was available (knowing that my blog had been around long enough and had become prominent enough that it’s possible someone else may have gotten there first). Foolishly enough, however, I didn’t go ahead and purchase it at the time, indecision being the order of the day (as it has been with regards to my radically redesigning my template or dumping Blogger). In any case, I knew instantly that whoever had pulled this trick must have done so quite recently. A little WHOIS search of the public registry of who owns this domain name was all it took to turn up the person who had registered the oracknows.com domain:

oracknows.com = [ 69.20.5.151 ]

Registrant:
GR
JB Handley
[ADDRESS DELETED by ORAC]
US
Email: jbh@spcap.com

Registrar Name….: REGISTER.COM INC.
Registrar Whois…: whois.register.com
Registrar Homepage: www.register.com
Domain Name: oracknows.com
Created on…………..: Thu Nov 03 2005
Expires on…………..: Mon Nov 03 2008
Record last updated on..: Thu Nov 03 2005
Administrative Contact:
GR
JB Handley
[ADDRESS DELETED by ORAC]
US
Phone: 1-[PHONE NUMBER DELETED by ORAC]
Email: jbh@spcap.com

Technical Contact:
Registercom
Domain Registrar
575 8th Avenue
New York NY 10018
US
Phone: 1-902-7492701
Email: domainregistrar@register.com

DNS Servers:
ns.rackspace.com
ns2.rackspace.com
Register your domain name at http://www.register.com

Well, well, well. Given where oracknows.com now directs surfers to, this shouldn’t come as any surprise, should it? After all, J. B. Handley of Generation Rescue has shown up here before in the comments, as you may recall, rather unhappy with some of my posts.

I couldn’t help but note that my post stating that I was thinking of moving to another blogging platform was made on October 28. Then, on November 3, J. B. Handley registered oracknows.com in his name and redirected all traffic to it to his Generation Rescue website. Apparently, J. B. is no longer content just to comment here occasionally when I point out that the evidence does not support his contention that mercury causes autism. Apparently, now he feels the need to trick people looking for my blog. This is particularly odd, given that, in the month or two prior to November 3, I hadn’t really written much at all about this topic. Not much was going on, and I had for the the time being moved on to other topics until quite recently.

In any case, the timing seems a little too convenient to be entirely coincidental, doesn’t it?

I did a little more digging. Who else, I asked, has irritated J. B. Handley by insisting on sound science and pointing out that clinical and basic scientific data do not support his conspiracy-mongering? Well, there’s Autism Diva, of course. So I looked up autismdiva.com. Yep, you guessed it. J. B. Handley bought that domain too:

autismdiva.com = [ 69.20.5.151 ]

Registrant:
GR
JB Handley
[ADDRESS DELETED by ORAC]
US
Email: jbh@spcap.com

Registrar Name….: REGISTER.COM INC.
Registrar Whois…: whois.register.com
Registrar Homepage: www.register.com
Domain Name: autismdiva.com
Created on…………..: Tue Nov 01 2005
Expires on…………..: Mon Nov 01 2010
Record last updated on..: Thu Nov 03 2005
Administrative Contact:
GR
JB Handley
[ADDRESS DELETED by ORAC]
US
Phone: 1-
[PHONE NUMBER DELETED by ORAC]
Email: jbh@spcap.com

Technical Contact:
Registercom
Domain Registrar
575 8th Avenue
New York NY 10018
US
Phone: 1-902-7492701
Email: domainregistrar@register.com

DNS Servers:
ns.rackspace.com
ns2.rackspace.com
Register your domain name at http://www.register.com

He redirected traffic to autismdiva.com to the Generation Rescue site as well.

Let’s see. Is there anyone else? Well, there’s SupportVaccination.org (which, unfortunately, seems to be “on permanent hiatus,” for reasons that I do not know). Guess what, though? J. B. Handley also bought supportvaccination.com and also redirected traffic to it to his own website.

I wonder what other domain names J. B. Handley has bought up in order to trick unwary surfers by directing them to Generation Rescue? Does anyone know a way to find out?

Tricks like this have traditionally been the province of spammers and Internet squatters, who buy up domain names that they believe a company or (or, relatively frequently, a political candidate) will want and then extort lots of money if that company or candidate wants to buy the domain name from them. Other uses of this tactic have been to set up attack or parody websites of the intended target that visitors end up at by mistake. One further variation is to buy up domain names that you would get with common typos of the target website. Personally, I highly doubt that Mr. Handley is after money from me, Autism Diva, or any other blogger that he doesn’t like. More likely, he just wants to direct readers looking for blogs that try to counter his mercury scaremongering to his own website. And, of course, he probably wants to prevent me from using oracknows.com myself if and when I ever finally decide to move my blog to a different platform and/or get my own host (something I may never do, for the simple reason that Blogger, despite its many flaws, remains the best deal in town because it’s free). Never mind that the mercury/autism controversy probably makes up way less than 5% of what I write about(if even that). No doubt J. B. had quite the self-satisfied chuckle when he did this and considers himself quite clever, but that Mr. Handley would stoop to such childish pranks for so little potential gain speaks volumes about him

Of course, scummy does not necessarily constitute illegal, and, of course, Mr. Handley did nothing illegal in purchasing these domains. Unfortunately, I probably have no recourse, other than to publicize his trick. I guess I have only myself to blame. I had been thinking of purchasing oracknows.com for several months but never quite got around to it. Consequently, my farting around allowed an Internet vulture like Mr. Handley snatch the domain name up first and use it for his own nefarious purposes. I wonder what some of Handley’s admirers would say about his behavior in this.

Probably nothing.

I would, however, point out to Handley’s supporters that you do have to wonder about someone who pulls a trick like this. Ask yourself: If Handley is willing to use a little deception in little things like this, doesn’t it make you wonder about his behavior in larger things? At the very least, what he has done is petty and childish.

The really funny thing about this is that Handley’s little prank was probably totally unnecessary, at least as far as preventing me from using oracknows.com goes. I’m probably going to stick with Blogger for at least a few more months, just with a different, far spiffier, template that I’m (very slowly) working on and hope to unveil by my blogiversary (assuming I can figure out how to work its many bugs out by then). Given that, I guess I can take satisfaction that I caused Mr. Handley to waste a small amount of his money registering that domain name and noting that he’d have to waste quite a bit more to keep me from using the same name with different extensions (.org, .info, .net, etc.). If I either fail to find a more productive hobby or my job fails to be all-consuming and I happen to be still blogging three years from now, it will be satisfying to think that Mr. Handley will have to waste even more money if he still wants to keep that domain name from me.

True, it’s not very much in the grand scheme of things, but it does still make me chuckle just a little bit.