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Beware geeks bearing domain name 'gifts'

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The excellent Register (www. the register. co. uk) reports that Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson earns a Privacy International nomination as worst civil servant 'for his long-standing commitment to opposing freedom of information, data protection and ministerial accountability'. He's also up for a 'lifetime menace award'.

Most invasive company nomination is the Countryside Alliance, which apparently keeps astronomical amounts of information on people it does not like. Whingeing pop-eyed, green-wellied, fox-breeding, CAPhandout scroungers. There, I'm on the list too - and me a farmer's son. Privacy International's The 2002 UK Big Brother Awards is at www. privacyinternational.

org/bigbrother/uk2002/.

After the first flush of getting your own domain name and maybe an inchoate website going plus a personalised e-mail address it is suddenly two years later and time to renew all the sites you registered. Some you will re-register because they are soundalikes for your own site. Some you will quietly drop because you have not, after all, had the gall to blackmail your rivals over soundalikes of their sites. However, The Register reports that unscrupulous sales people are calling up firms whose domain names are nearing renewal and trying to pester them into renewing them on the spot.

Others are being cold-called and told that someone is trying to register their domain name and they should snap it up there and then. The bloke from Nominet, who registers dot UK domain names, advises us to shop around for a more congenial/less threatening ISP.

I've also had readers asking me to look at come-ons from companies which purport to get you to the top of search engine lists. Don't bother, seems to be the best advice - although, mildly scandalously, you can pay some search engines to 'place'your site at the beginning of a search whose criteria you select.

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