Dust to Dust

FairWinds Partners —  March 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

Maybe it was the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance program. Perhaps it is Google’s Big Brother approach. Or it could have been one massive data breach too many.

shutterstock_135169079Most likely a combination of the three is bumping up against the trend of connecting more devices to the web in order to share more data. There appears instead to be a growing appetite for software, devices, and services to help consumers erase their digital footprints and keep their communications and information out of view – whether from governments, crooks, or history itself.

One of the benefits of new top-level domains is that brand applicants will have greater control over the security of their information. But what about the average consumer? A number of new products are being designed to protect their information, as well.

Everyone’s heard of Snapchat, the photo-messaging service that vaporizes pictures, videos, and taglines you send to friends within second of receipt.  Although it’s been around for about three years, the app burst into the public consciousness last year when its owner turned down a $3 billion buy-out offer from Facebook. That’s a company banking on serious future growth.

More recently, the evocatively named Cyber Dust– a Snapchat for texts – promises your messages will “disappear forever and cannot be traced.” Bitter experience inspired this product, developed by entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who described his inspiration to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. Cuban said he was sued for inside trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, and the government’s case relied in part on his emails. He was acquitted last fall, apparently learned a lesson, and monetized that lesson into Cyber Dust. He may have even written the company’s slogan: “Every spoken word isn’t recorded. Why should your texts be?”

For serious privacy buffs, the Blackphone is now available. Yes, black phone, as in blackouts, black sites, black markets, and black boxes. But this is no longer cloak and dagger fare. “Keep the Internet from looking over your shoulder,” urge the phone’s creators, or at least its marketers, with “world class cryptology built into every Blackphone app.”

The Blackphone also comes with additional privacy programs, according to The Verge: SpiderOak, which provides 5GB of “zero-knowledge encrypted data backup,” and Disconnect, a VPN-based search provider “to anonymize internet queries through regular search engines like Google or Bing.”

Others are launching their own versions of a black phone. The Wall Street Journal reported that aerospace giant Boeing is developing Boeing Black for government defense and security workers only, not the general public. Harking back to the 70s TV series Mission Impossible, the Boeing Black will self-destruct if tampered with.

Privacy protecting search engines are also seeing an increase in use.  Duck Duck Go, for example, prides itself for not storing IP addresses or collecting personal information.

Of course, privacy and anti-hacking tools have been around for a while. Edward Snowden, deployed a number to hide his tracks as he prepared to leak millions of NSA documents exposing the extent of U.S. cyber spying.

The granddaddy of anonymity on the web may be the award-winning Tor, free software that provides layers of encryption not just for data but also for the destination IP and then routs the data through more than 5,000 relays, making it difficult to track. Tor receives 80 percent of its funding from the U.S. government, according to Wikipedia, which probably means the USG accounts for 80 percent of Tor’s usage. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine placed its founders among the Top 100 Global Thinkers “for making the web safe for whistleblowers.”

shutterstock_102346009On the other hand, The Economist described Tor as a “dark corner of the web” because it is used by criminals to commit identity theft, credit card fraud, copyright infringement, drug sales, illicit distribution of sexual content, and the like. Ironically, both crime networks and law enforcement use Tor at cross-purposes[FP1] , Wikipedia says, sometimes at the same time.

Despite these gadgets and gizmos, there is really no such thing as 100 percent security. So, if Big Brother hasn’t found you yet, don’t worry, he will. And we don’t necessarily mean the NSA.

Last month, Google paid $3.2 billion for Nest Labs, maker of a smart thermostat and a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector, which will collect all sorts of information such as when you are home and when you aren’t. And don’t forget Google Glass, which will be able to tell where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with.

Who knew that when Google promised to “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” they were talking about your information?

Perhaps the privacy tool industry will eventually figure out a way to make you invisible to Google Glass.

“Spectacular execution of a wonderful event.”

That was the assessment of one participant at the Beyond the Dot 2014 conference Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

366A1772The conference focused on the effect of new top-level domains on average Internet users and drew a capacity crowd of over 150, several well-received speakers, and multiple media stories.

In Washington D.C., #beyondthedot was even trending on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

Guests came from as far away as the west coast and Europe and included applicants for new top-level domains, brand owners, marketers, lawyers, and industry insiders.

Over the course of the day, skilled moderators led seven panels in lively discussions about how Internet governance is evolving, exactly what the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) does, and how brands are crafting digital strategies to accommodate the revolution in the domain name space.

New top-level domain owners, including luxury brands owner Richemont and storage giant Extra Space Storage, said they originally applied as a hedge to protect their brands but came to realize the opportunity new top-level domains hold.

Google’s so-called “gTLD guy” Jordyn Buchanan said Google realized the security benefits of a new top-level domain after a number of its sites in country code top-level domains – such as .IN for India or .PK for Pakistan – were repeatedly hacked.

Erwin Cruz said industrial supply company Grainger applied for .SAFETY to create a community for safety professionals.  And Melissa Madigan of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy gave four reasons for their .PHARMACY application: Legitimacy, trustworthiness, security, and safety.

“You guys thought of (every) detail and put (together) an agenda that was extremely relevant,” said Shaul Jolles, owner of .UNO, which aims to be the Spanish version of .COM “I have yet to be (at) a conference that absolutely everybody felt was well done. Well, here it was the consensus. Well done.”

In the mean time, reach out to us to have a conversation about what you need to know to adapt your own digital strategy, and keep your eye on this blog for video clips of the event.

Geeks in Love

FairWinds Partners —  February 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

What warms the cockles more than Geeks in Love?

Yes, fellow Netizens, Valentine’s Day is almost here, and some of us geeks are still deciding how best to express our love for our better halves.

Roses and chocolates? Pretty old school.

No – we’re holding out for something really epic that says, if not “I am an alpha geek”, then at least “you have the QR code to my inner domain.”

For the beta-baby who stole your heart, how about a monthly subscription to LootCrate, which will deliver to your door the latest, funnest products, such as a Minecraft 2014 calendar or a Star Wars Galactic phrase book?

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If he is dapper grey matter – who under the age of 50 wears French cuffs? – you can buy a pair of silver cufflinks that disguise a USB with 2GB of storage and also serve as a wifi hotspot. He’ll never be out of touch again.

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Speaking of wearable tech, for her you can buy geektastic Bluetooth smart jewelry, say, a necklace or earrings that light up when she gets a phone message.

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Or you can reinforce your synchronicity with a social network for two.

But the most awesome gift for your sweet geek would be a domain name, such as ILoveRipley.com or BenedictLoves.me. Even better would be a website in a new generic top-level domain.

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That would certainly cement your geek chops. Imagine:

Marleyis.SEXY

Paisleydeserves.DIAMONDS

ErinandIare.DATING or

DexterandFawnarein.LOVE

Let your inner geek run amok. Or, as Lemon Demon sings it:

When they see us on the street, they wish that they were geeks in love.
And when they hear us trick-or-treat, they wish that they were geeks in love.
As we lock arms and skip away, they wish that they were geeks in love.
And you can almost hear them say they wish that they were geeks in love.

Make it so.

A Different Idea

FairWinds Partners —  February 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Conferences. Conferences. To go or not to go?

Sure industry conferences can be fun, especially if they are held in cities like Las Vegas or New York, where the food and entertainment are unsurpassed.

But conferences can also be a waste of time, with the same old speakers regurgitating the same old ideas in front of the same old attendees – all for an exorbitant fee.

FairWinds Partners has a different idea. As host of the Beyond the Dot 2014 conference – to be held in Washington D.C. on February 19 – FairWinds is striking a new note in terms of speakers, topics, and, not least of all, fees!

For starters, Beyond the Dot 2014 will be the first conference ever to discuss the impact of new top-level domains – the text to the right of the dot in a web address, as in .COM – on Internet users, companies, brands, and individuals rather than on industry insiders.

Beyond the Dot 2014 will also be the first conference on new top-level domains to be held in Washington D.C. – which ranks up there with Vegas and New York in terms of food and entertainment and surpasses them in terms of civics and history.

Beyond the Dot 2014 will blaze a new path in terms of speakers. For example, the keynote speaker will be Jim Messina, who managed President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and innovated voter targeting through high tech computer programs.

Beyond the Dot 2014 also will have a number of panels discussing topics that few have paid attention to, such as how new top-level domains will erase geographic and linguistic boundaries on the Internet and how corporate managers will introduce their new online properties. Most unusually, the last panel of the day is entitled “What Lies Beyond the Dot for Internet Users?” Who? Oh yeah, the people who will determine if a new top-level domain succeeds or fails.

Last but not least, Beyond the Dot 2014 is good value. The Momentum Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy Conference in March will set you back $1,500. The Digital Marketing SuperSummit in April costs $1,800 – and then you will have to pay more for workshops. NamesCon in January was somewhat more reasonable at $780 per ticket. But Beyond the Dot beats them all with a ticket price of  $495.

Clearly Beyond the Dot 2014 is a different breed of conference. Register today for an experience that will add concrete, substantive meaning to your business strategies.

messinaWe can hardly contain our excitement as the Beyond the Dot 2014 conference comes together. Our latest coup: President Obama’s 2012 campaign mastermind Jim Messina will keynote the conference, which is designed to examine the impact of Internet domain names on businesses and consumers.

The conference will take place at the Newseum in Washington D.C., and we welcome you to register here.

“We look forward to hearing Jim’s ideas about where new top-level domains will fit into politics and American society over the next several years,” said Nao Matsukata, President and Chief Executive Officer of FairWinds Partners, which is hosting the conference. “Jim’s 2012 consultation with the nation’s foremost tech leaders is just one example of his out-of-the-box thinking, which is so crucial to the future of the Internet.”

Messina, who managed the President’s 2012 re-election campaign, is known for perfecting the digital age political campaign through the unprecedented use of technology to target likely voters. His first order of business was to visit the chief executives of a number of technology companies – Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Zynga, and Google – to seek advice.

“I went around the country for literally a month of my life interviewing these companies and just talking about organizational growth, emerging technologies, marketing,” Messina told Bloomberg Businessweek.

In two private conversations, according to Businessweek, “Steve Jobs tore into Messina for all the White House was doing wrong and what it ought to be doing differently, before going on to explain how the campaign could exploit technology in ways that hadn’t been possible before. “

Messina also sought advice from Steven Spielberg and his team at DreamWorks on how to capture the attention of American voters.

Not surprisingly, Messina concluded that a modern day presidential campaign is very much like a technology company. “What they’ve done is more readily applicable to me, because they all started very small and got big very quickly,” he told Businessweek.

Currently, Messina is leading Priorities USA, a political action committee that supports Hillary Clinton for president.

Beyond the Dot 2014 will be the first conference to explore the ramifications of new top-level domains (the text to the right of the dot in a web address, such as .COM, .NET, and .ORG) on the end user.

Other speakers at the conference include former Ambassador and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, who is also chairman of the Internet task force at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Akram Atallah, President of the Global Domains Division at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees many technical functions of the Internet. In addition, the owners of new top-level domains .GOP, .GAY, .NYC, and .UNO will participate in panel discussions. See the agenda here.

Beyond the Dot 2014 is designed to educate the public about the coming changes to the Internet: approximately 1,400 new top-level domains over the next two years, in addition to the 22 previously in common use. These changes will affect the totality of Internet behavior, from search, to navigation, to commerce, to security, to privacy, to analytics, and more. For a primer on this unprecedented expansion of the domain name space, check out FairWinds’ microsite beyondthedot.com.

Is it too early or precisely the right time for a conversation about new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and the various ways brands can protect themselves against cybersquatting?  This was the main question nearly 20 participants had at a roundtable in Philadelphia sponsored by the International Trademark Association entitled “gTLDs: Protecting Your Brand.”

The discussion group, lead by yours truly, was made up of law firm attorneys, in-house counsel, representatives from service providers CCH Corsearch, and mega-registry Donuts.

Many in the room were there “to learn as much as I can about this subject” reflecting the fact that it’s still early in the rollout of new TLDs, and most brand owners have registered no new second-level domains let alone filed claims under the Uniform Rapid Suspension system (URS), the Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure (PDDRP) or the Registry Restrictions Dispute Resolution Procedure (RRDRP) which have been added to the arsenal of brand owners that, until now, had been limited to the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Seven new gTLDs are now open to the public for registration of websites, and many more will become available to the public in the coming months so I expect there will be a tremendous increase in demand for expertise on these issues.

Many roundtable attendees were familiar with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) – the organization put in place by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to help brands protect their marks. But participants expressed concerns about the vague instructions from, and lack of communication by the TMCH.

Donuts’ Domains Protected Marks List (DPML), a blanket protection being offered across its 250+ TLDs, was of particular interest to attendees.  For less than the price of a single UDRP complaint, brand owners can block others from registering domains identical to, or that contain their trademark.  Even for this brand-friendly program, however, it seems likely that there will be kinks to work out the system gains in popularity.

Although clients may not be ready to ask for advanced gTLD services, now is the perfect time for trademark professionals to scale the learning curve so that once these domains start appearing on billboards, buses, Super Bowl® commercials, and web ads, these professionals can avoid last-minute scrambles and instead be fully prepared to take immediate steps to protect valuable brand assets.

Are you interested in learning more about new gTLDs? Check out www.BeyondtheDot.com or view the full video here: