One downside of the convenience of working online is the multiple varieties of online piracy. This post reports on two I’ve recently experienced.
My email provider, the University of Toronto Scarborough, for some reason decided that messages from the Canadian Internet Registration Agency reminding me to renew the domain name www.digitalstate.ca were junk, and didn’t transmit them to me. The one message that did get through told me that the deadline had passed and I had lost the domain name. And indeed the website, which had been used to promote my book Digital State at the Leading Edge, went dead. As soon as it became available, the domain name was acquired by a gang of pirates at www.dompro.com, which traffics in domain names. If you go to the site now, a similar gang called Name Drive is offering it for sale. I refused to play that game and acquired a new domain name for the book, which is www.digitalstate.org. The moral of the story is to work with your email provider to make sure that messages from CIRA aren’t considered junk.
The second story concerns an online conference call provider that I’ve been using, primarily for conference calls among the six authors of Digital State. The service is automated, so that all you do to arrange a conference call is dial their number at the prearranged time and enter the access code. Somehow someone got the moderator’s access code, which I had divulged to no one. They ran up a bill of $ 400 US on conference calls, most made in the early hours of a Sunday morning. The bill was automatically charged to my credit card. When the conference call provider’s invoice arrived in my email, I protested, and after a number of calls with customer service and accounting, the provider agreed to refund the charges, though due to exchange rate fluctuations and credit card transactions fees for currency changes, I received $30 (Canadian) less than I paid. No longer working on a multi-author collaboration, I cancelled my account with the online provider. The moral of this story is that if I ever do need a conference call provider in the future, I’ll avoid online options, and choose one that goes through an actual person.
And the moral of both stories is that there are lots of pirates out there in cyberspace, and you can’t be too careful about either your intellectual property, like a clever domain name, or your private information, like access codes or passwords.