Misleading Web addresses set poor precedent

In many aspects of life, things are not always what they seem. While attempting to type in the Web site for the commander in chief’s residence, stumbling upon a picture of Democratic front-runner John Kerry with the message, “Our candidates are better looking than yours,” is quite possible. The pornography Web site Whitehouse.com, commonly confused with Whitehouse.gov, is just one example of a Web site that appears as though it is one thing but ends up as not exactly what you were looking for. Daniel Parisi, the creator of Whitehouse.com, started the site in 1997 and after seven years, he has decided to get out of the pornography business. Web sites like this one are not only a way children are exposed to inappropriate content, they serve as a nuisance because people intending to visit the White House-Web page are greeted by porn instead.

According to the Associated Press, Parisi, 44, made his decision to discontinue Whitehouse.com out of fear that his son, who will be starting kindergarten next year, would be taunted by classmates about his dad’s family business. Even though Parisi’s Web site generates $1 million annually in revenues, a rebounding market in reselling Web addresses clearly must be helping his decision to sell. Just as a Florida man did in December, earning $1.3 million selling men.com, Parisi hopes to soon do the same.

Parisi’s Web site is not the only domain name that leads to pornography under the guise of a commonly used information sites’ name spelled slightly different. CNN.com reports that the popular search engine Google.com is involved in a lawsuit with Booble.com, a pornography search engine site that has a similar graphical appearance and design as Google’s home page. These misleading porn addresses are luring children to view pornographic material, often without intending to do so. As Parry Aftab, WiredSafety organizer, said to AP, “Every time our kids were doing homework about the White House or the presidency, they would type in dot-com. It’s always been the poster child for where our kids can get into trouble with porn by accident.”

Even though President George W. Bush signed a law banning misleading web addresses that could lure users into viewing material that could be harmful to minors, these Web sites are still around and popping up on people everywhere. Whether it is the money or his son’s well being that truly drives Parisi to sell his company isn’t important. By selling his company, Parisi is helping out the General Services Administration and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration in their cause to make the Internet safer for minors. Nevertheless, parents should still supervise when their children are surfing the Web, as it is in the Internet’s very nature that anything can be found at any time.