The .gop top-level domain is meant to be for Republicans. “GOP” stands for “grand old party” which America’s Republicans are commonly known. But it seems there’s no restrictions, or they’re not enforced, on who can register .gop domain names, and Trump opponents are having fun registering domains such as putins.gop according to a report in The Daily Beast.
According to the join.gop website, .gop was launched in 2014 and “is the preferred domain name for all Republicans and conservatives online.”
“As the only web ending run by a political party, .gop makes history by connecting conservatives, Republicans and all who identify with the GOP movement with an easily identifiable online presence to create a national support structure for the Republican Party.
“The .gop registry is a technology endeavour dedicated to positioning the Republican Party at the forefront of innovation and advancing Republican principles. .gop is the place where you can find conservative people and ideas on the web.”
The Acceptable Use Policy [pdf] states in part that “the Registry supports the sharing of diverse ideas over the Internet and intends for the online community to fully reflect the varying viewpoints and debates taking place in our community. While the Registry encourages the free flow of information, the Registry will strive to maintain a respectful and non-shocking environment, supportive of the Republican Party.”
And then “the Registry does not exercise editorial control over the content of any message or website made accessible by domain name resolution services in the Registry Top Level Domain (“Registry TLD”), but may remove an entire website from the Registry TLD if the message violates the registrant’s contractual responsibility or violates any part of this Acceptable Use Policy.”
Registrations in .gop peaked at just over 3,000 in October 2015, dropped by 1,000 in 3 days and have gradually dropped to just over 1,100 today according to nTLDstats.com.
But that hasn’t stopped some eager registrants. The Daily Beast reports “sprinkled among those are some websites that don’t exactly advance Republican principles, such as the satirical “Putin/Trump 2020 campaign” blog at Putin2020.gop and the long-running “asshat.gop,” which consists of nothing but a photo of President Trump.”
The putins.gop domain name was registered by “by 63-year-old network engineer and amateur domain prospector Michael Monsport.” He’s a domain investor that’s been buying domain names since 1996 and doesn’t like Trump.
Another obvious .gop domain that wasn’t picked up was DonaldTrump.gop which a former Clinton campaign staffer registered one month before Election Day.
“I was actually surprised it was available,” Matthew Ortega, a political web consultant told The Daily Beast. “I just started searching a bunch of terms and after a while I collected a bunch of these.”
“Despite drawing middling traffic, Ortega held on to DonaldTrump.gop, and today he redirects incoming visitors to another website he runs cataloguing corruption allegations against the Trump administration.
“He said he might have grabbed more of the GOP’s online real estate if the $20 registration fee didn’t go to the Republicans. ‘That’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone hog wild buying the domains.’”