If you are Sen. Ted Cruz or the campaign manager of his just-officially-announced 2016 run for the U.S. presidency, imagine how annoying it is to go to TedCruz.com and see this:
How did such a thing come to pass?
Well, it happens more frequently than you might think. TedCruzforAmerica.com redirects to the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, for example, and there isn't much that the Texas senator's campaign can do about it, since the people who register the domain names often do so anonymously by proxy.
"It's a major issue," said Chuck Warren, a managing director at the Las Vegas-based political communication firm, Silver Bullet, who came up with the idea for two new domains – .vote and .voto – that ban anonymous registrations.
He said in 2012, the presidential campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich had websites with their names that presented materials critical of them. JebBushforpresident.com contains a blog that's primarily concerned with LGBT issues.
"For politicians,their name is everything," Warren told Fox News Latino. "But a 2012 study showed that 50 percent of members of Congress don't own their name domains."
The new domains have only been available for three weeks, but already have been purchased by some politicians like Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (both Utah Republicans) who have jumped on board.
Taking someone’s domain is not unlike someone taking identity – except it is perfectly legal and can be done by anyone with money and technical savvy.
“You can register anything you want in a domain name,” Karl Kronenberger, a partner at the Internet law firm Kronenberger Rosenfeld, told the Washington Post.
But is there anything that Senator Ted Cruz can do to take back TedCruz.com? Not much.
A WhoIs search on the domain name shows that it was first registered April 20, 2004; according to The Hill, the creator was a Phoenix-area realty firm, Ted Cruz and Associates, whose founder shares a name with the U.S. Senator.
Last year, Mother Jones did a Wayback Machine search of archived Internet pages and found that as recently as early 2008, it was a fairly standard-looking website for a business. "Putting All Your Real Estate Needs In 'Cruz Control,'" was the site’s tagline.
By May of 2014, however, the site bore a message against a black background that appeared to rib the Texas politico: "Coming Soon,” it read, “Presidential Candidate: I Luv Christie!!!!!"
According to The Hill, the website’s ownership was switched in the spring of 2014, though that could not be independently confirmed.
Ted Cruz.com’s registration was updated in April 2014 via GoDaddy.com, and the registrant’s contact information gives the number for a Scottsdale, Arizona, company named Domains By Proxy.
A spokesman for that company told Fox News Latino that they do not have information about their clients to give out.
Calls to the number listed online for Ted Cruz and Associates directs callers to a personal voicemail. Messages left on the voicemail went unreturned.