back to article Daring Register raid snatches key government URL

On Friday the UK government announced a joint industry-government marketing strategy designed to promote the UK's expertise in Information Communication Technology (ICT). The strategy, said Trade & Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones, "is a catalyst to stimulate discussion amongst Government and business about how we sell the …


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  1. Phil Launchbury

    Point it at your news story about the 25 million names missing..

    After all that demonstrates our governments IT capabilities quite nicely.

    "If nothing else a fool can serve as a warning to others"

  2. Tim Greenwood


    In the absence of a nonsensical government approach perhaps a poll as to what "official" message should be posted. Without going too far overboard on spoofing a few erudite comments on a site may not go too far amiss. I would have thought that the El Reg posse could knock some sort of sensible website together.

  3. Ash
    Paris Hilton

    This can only end badly

    Something tells me that because you published the fact you

    a) Bought a domain name listed as "to be working" in a Govt. Document, and

    b) Seek compensation for the return of said domain name to those who would seek to use it for their business (or some other such legal bullsh1t),

    I can only surmise that you will be sued, the people who resolve these issues will find in the Govt's favour, and common sense will once more be beaten in the background by corporate / Govt heavy-handedness.

    Otherwise, specify Tyrrels crisps; they're really very nice. Lemon and Jalapino Chilli are a personal favourite.

    No, you may not use that information to offer me advertising or promotions which may of interest to me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Do your own little consultation page

    Please, do a *proper* consultation page that gives the site the El-Reg treatment that it deserves.


    - The government's excellent record on Data Privacy

    - Public Private partnerships in the government IT projects

    - Success Stories like the NHS, HMRC, etc.

    - How Biometrics will save the World?

    - RFID implants for all Children to protect them, of course

    - ANPR and how it will never get hacked

    - Encryption Policy enforcement throughout government departments

    Yup, definitely plenty of scope for El-Reg to get busy on.

  5. Bruno Girin

    Cunning Plan

    In fact, it's a cunning plan by the government to get El Reg to cybersquat the URL, build up the website and do the consultation, all for the price of a bag of crisps! And hey presto, a government project done on time and within budget!

    Or maybe they just lost the domain name registration form in this pesky internal mail system.

  6. Edwin

    Cheeky idea

    ...redirect the URL to El Reg in a frame that says "this government programme is sponsored by the leading UK IT publication"

    It wouldn't be a lie - you have, after all, paid good money to obtain this URL...

    Please post all correspondence once they catch on!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll bid 2 pints

    alternatively take Phil's advice and point it at a suitable article about's arse and elbow disorder.

  8. Simon Elliott
    Dead Vulture

    Oh you have to do something good with this

    What about all of those wonderful stories about government IT (in)competence?

    Wrap it up as a fake advert for the government.

  9. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: This can only end badly

    Well, we reckon we know a thing or two about marketing ourselves, and are of the opinion that there's a goodly quantity of cheap publicity to be had, should HMG feel the urge to sue us for cybersquatting. So whenever you're ready, Lord Jones...

  10. Graham Bartlett


    If you're talking crisps, it has to be Tyrrells root-vegetable crisps. Carrot and beetroot make such good crisps, you wonder why anyone initially bothered crisping potatoes. Although the game crisps earlier in the year were particularly tasty - sadly they seem to have been a limited edition, cos I could do with some for Xmas.

    Yes, that's me checking my jacket pockets to find where I left my last bag of crisps...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Tell me how you feel

    Perhaps you could put up a big form that asks visitors to fill out all of their personal and financial details, and then when they have done so, you could take all that data and sell it on the open market - or use it for your own ends. You'd have to stick an official-looking government stamp at the top, with a photograph of Gordon Brown, and a speech bubble that says "I am Gordon Brown, and I endorse this website".

    There might be a legal issue with this kind of plan, and I'm not seriously suggesting that you do it yourself, because that would probably also be illegal.

    Perhaps you could offer to "protect" the URL from evil cybersquatters, for a fee. Drop hints that, if you aren't paid on time, the URL might get... damaged. It might fall on the floor. Fragile things, URLs. It would be a shame if it "got wet", if you know what I mean.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    That's great, but need to put some decent web page there

    That's awesome. Journalism in action.

    However, I was disappointed with the standard boilerplate web page. Maybe you could put some news about the iPhone, Paris Hilton, and include a picture of that Eee PC girl on the beach.

    Or possibly and advertisement for your consulting services with the results of your latest survey.

  13. Alistair Wall

    Plan B

    I thought perhaps they mistyped, but that domain is free as well.

  14. Simon.W
    Thumb Up

    Only as good as your weakest link

    and the government have dared to affiliate themselves with the word "expertise" and tell everyone how they should sell themselves when they haven't a clue about IT.

    This is just designed to level the playing field by tarring everyone with the "know nothing bonzo" IT approach that the ministers, secretaries and senior civil servants love to promote as their gold standard for IT delivery.

    Well here it begins; the spin to make out that the IT illiterate UK Gov. has something worth having (barring everyone else’s data of course, which they also don't have now).

    Well done El Reg for this pre-emptive strike against spin and disinformation.

    And I agree with Phil Launchbury, point all the URLs at your articles on the fiasco that has been the UK government approach to data security.

  15. Mike F

    I wonder...

    If the reg did make a spoof site i wonder if the people from the gov who were ment to make the site would notice it is not theirs :D

  16. Rich

    ...but seriously...

    ...(just for a bit - promise!)....

    This really does show a truly staggeringly Herculean level of incompetence on the part of the bods in charge at MH Gov.

    I mean, what the f*** are they playing at? It's SO funny that it actually STOPS being funny any more!

  17. Mark Rendle

    Strategy Boutique?

    Although you seem to have stopped doing that particular t-shirt.

  18. Paul Smith


    Not one person has commented on the creation of this new and presumably very well paid quango? Come on; IT, strategy and marketing? All in the same committee? Very well paid indeed! Now you have the URL, why not apply for a position on the board?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Redirect required

    point it at some some shocking image, perhaps a close up of Lesters chilling visage, underlit of course for added spookyness.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Is this the same Digby Jones ?

    @Paul Smith: Sorry I'm late :-)

    Is this the same Lord Digby Jones as the Senior Non-Executive of iSoft - coders for the NHS project?

    What is a Senior Non-Executive, and where do I apply?

    Can we have Paris Hilton instead, please?

  21. Chris Wood

    Nice try...

    but I'm thinking they'll just replace the with if this is a Government study.

  22. Paul Kinsler

    a catalyst to stimulate discussion, eh?

    ... why not put up a wiki and see what the site visitors want to say?

    Then, later, we can all have a nice discussion impugning its moderation policy.

  23. DanO
    Thumb Down


    Thought that term was banned. The gov doesn't know it's called IT.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Who hasn't been there...

    At my last company the PR types were always doing this kind of thing: Advertizing products before they were even coded, before the coders even knew about them, before the domain names were registered, etc. Unfortunately that always meant the tech guys had to achive the impossible, and the sales people were given fat commisions for creative marketing. Good to know that the government works similiarly to private industry.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Shocking redirect

    I personally feel Lester's face is not enough for a shocking image. Perhaps a redirect to wherever goatse resides nowadays would be more appropriate to the governments IT strategy.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One word...


  27. Rob
    Black Helicopters

    Seriously El Reg....

    .... use and abuse it.

    Government IT cock-ups and maybe lob some specially crafted stories from BOFH in there as well.... even better than that does BOFH have a BPFH (Barstard Politican From Hell) Cousin.

    Also could you ask why we have a dictator running our country.... I didn't vote for him and neither did anyone else.

  28. Bob C

    Blame the yanks.

    I'm sure it's George Bush's fault.

  29. David Buckley

    what to do....what to do.....


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @can we have Paris Hilton instead

    Are you sure? I thought the plan was to get someone who didn't want to screw anyone and everyone.

  31. TallPaul

    We got your name

    Perhaps you could get the guys who devised "we got your name/we like donkeys" for a similar exploit to reprise the song ...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    changing to might be a start

    But then the ICT Marketing bods would have to explain why they went to media with the wrong domain name (that they didn't own) and then had to revert to a different domain (that they didn't at the time own either). Which might put a small dent in their credibility.

    Even if they did do that, if el Reg get an working site up and running with some content it would be a nice counter-weight to the quango.

  33. Bill Fresher

    @Ashley Pomeroy

    "Perhaps you could put up a big form that asks visitors to fill out all of their personal and financial details"

    Why has no one thought of sending scam emails saying something along the lines of: this is the tax office, as you may have heard we've lost a lot of peoples' personal details, unfortunately you were one of those people and you have to email us your bank details etc so that we can put them back on our systems. If you don't do it within 24 hours you go to prison.

  34. John


    In view of the obvious threat to national security posed by this exposure of incompetence, the intrepid hacks should be held incommunicado for 28 days until Her Majesty's Ministry of Truth spin doctors have corrected history. Of course 42 days or forever would be far more reassuring to the populace at large, but then I enjoy reading these stories.

  35. Morely Dotes

    It's a gold mine!

    1. Obtain URL heavily advertised by the InCompetent Technologists (that's what "ICT" means, you lot!).

    2. Place attractive and compelling content on said URL.

    3. ??

    4. Profit!

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Grant

    They didn't want it anyway

    The one referenced in the linked document (now dated 07 December) is as below.

    "It is also available on the internet at This will also let you know how to participate in the consultation. "

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No to Goatse

    Seriously. The one really great thing about quantum physics is that one day we may be able to erase goatse from history.

    The good thing about this is they have a better chance of getting it back from El Reg (with a few red faces) than some third world cybersquatter who would no doubt have registered it sooner than the government.

  39. Fluffykins

    Changed now

    link is now quoted in the online brief with uk in front.

  40. Tawakalna


    clearly your attempt to embarass and humilate the Nation's elected representatives who've delivered ten years of sustained economic growth blah blah blah is indicative that you *may* have been penetrated by an Al-Quaeda associated network in order to undermine our democratic principles. You should turn yourselves in and surrender your hard drives and other data storage devices, for after all, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide }:)

    no Gordo icon?

  41. Anonymous Coward


    Not much else to say really, that's...... that's BRILLIANT that is.

    Oh, you sure about those crisps? I'd rather a nice bag of pork scratchings myself.

  42. Stephen Hill

    They have changed it

    They have added "uk" at the front of the url hence defying Registers attempts at blackmail or just making them look stupid.

  43. Chris Adams

    ICT Marketing. Hmmm.

    Well probably the only fair use of this is to use it as a site to flog ad space on El Reg which is, of course, ICT marketing.

    I much prefer the idea of an El Reg Government IT Cock-ups channel though.

    Either way, jolly good show, chaps!

  44. JeffyPooh

    I just grabbed...

    ...for no apparent reason.

  45. jayenne montana

    Hmm...Has all of this been a little hasty?

    I notice the web link you provide points to another URL, one that seems to work fine, and one that was registered on Registered on: 17-Oct-2007 (src:

    I suspect nothing more than a typo has given a lot of publicity to the new site and you know what they say about 'all publicity'

  46. UKTI

    Perhaps we can clear this up

    A small typo crept into an earlier version of the press release publicising the ICT Marketing strategy URL. Those interested in reading the strategy document can do so at

    UK Trade & Investment

  47. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Perhaps we can clear this up

    Well, erm, a small typo crept into an earlier version of the press release that was published on 16th November, and again in a second release published on 7th December. Nobody apparently noticed until we publicised it, so well done for that, team. Would we be correct in thinking that traffic to your splendid registered-users-only consultation site has in the interim been in the high severals?

  48. Geoff Thompson
    Thumb Up

    Nice one

    Well done El Reg. I'd have thought they would have registered the few likely addresses which people might use, e.g. "", .org and .com, and the one without the uk at the beginning - any commercial operation would have covered that one. This is just silly for a so called major initiative.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Re: Perhaps we can clear this up

    El Reg, I suspect you're dead right about the site's traffic volume, but I suspect we'll never know - UKTI probably don't even have a way of monitoring it. What a botch-up.

  50. jubtastic1

    Top URL gov people!

    Really rolls off the tongue with that uk at the front, although I'd have recommended "", less redundant and more descriptive.

  51. Martin Peake

    No black helicopters then...

    Tonight being Spooks night on the telly, I was rather worried that El Reg would be visited by the men in black helicopters, and there would be no more ripping yarns of stranded pantechniconists and government FUBARs for a while.

    But once again, our Lords and Masters screwed up their IT facts again. Shame they didn't do the same for the hunting ban, the handgun ban...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mailing lists?

    So the guy gives his email as a mailto at the the bottom of the page?

    *googles mailing lists

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the whois data is interesting

    "Domain name:

    Registrant: jayenne Montana

    Registrant type: UK Individual

    Registrant's address: The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their address omitted from the WHOIS service."

    A non-trading individual? Er, I'm no expert, but that description is usually used for people who've created a website at home for their local boy scouts group, isn't it, not a commercially created website promoting a "joint industry-government marketing strategy"?

  54. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: the whois data is interesting

    More interesting still, a Jayenne Montana posted an earlier comment saying "I suspect nothing more than a typo has given a lot of publicity to the new site and you know what they say about 'all publicity'" (to which I say, 'Gary Glitter').

    Someone of that name is also listed at Linkedin as owner of Polygonsoup Ltd, which runs the nameservers for Hiya, Jayenne. (-:

  55. TeeCee Gold badge

    ...and the cost?

    I wonder how much it cost them to change all the documents and links? Do you think it might have been more than a bag of crisps?

    How Government works #1: Spending large amounts of cash to cover your arse is a far better solution than admitting you've screwed up.

  56. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  57. Duncan


    "Hiya, Jayenne. (-:"

    Someone's been rumbled. As the Polygonsoup site says "Creative Communication"? Or a good dose of damage limitation going on here?

    Good story!

  58. Rob
    Black Helicopters

    Re: the whois data is interesting

    Well I suppose some numpty from the IT industry has to climb in bed with government to start these things off, otherwise the government wouldn't have a clue, least they have half a clue now.

    (typo my arse, blantant half arsed working attitude more like, well it is the government after all).

  59. Colin Jackson
    Black Helicopters


    Oh hai! Does U knoe El Reg haz UR internetz!?!

  60. Slaine

    poetry corner - verse 2

    With each and every passing day

    I devise some cunning stunts

    to explain there's those who really can

    yet our government's made of can't's.

  61. Chris Coles

    This reminds me of the "Stokes" era and the same misguided attempts to promote the UK motor industry

    Back in the late 1960's early 1970's one would come across individuals from the old DTI, (Department of Trade and Industry) that called themselves "Industrialists" because their boss, the UK government, owned large portions of what had been thriving industries in private hands that had, by then, become moribund and bloated by social employment created by these self same "industrialists". All sorts of schemes were floated to improve the competitiveness of the industries they "owned". One such involved a man called Stokes whose job was to bring all the disparate parts of the UK motor industry into one company to, yes, you have guessed it, "promote".......... In the end, it all came to nothing, the whole idea proved to be impossible to do within any government structure and Stokes became Lord Stokes and our once world beating motor industry..... evaporated. So all we are seeing here is a repeat of the same old story. The Civil Service do not trust private individuals or small privately owned business. I suspect that derives from their own difficulties with dealing with private sub contractors. You may have noticed Tony Blair once used to proclaim against "Individualism". Back in the 1970's the head of the Inland Revenue once openly stated in a speech that "The self employed are the scum that floats upon the surface of society".

    So here we have our national government unable to even conceive that a private business could promote itself and needs their help. Why would they think that? What was it that started them thinking that private industry would need government help? With the greatest of respects to Lord Digby Jones, I ask him to please explain to us here on The Register how this exercise has come about and who thought of it and to tell us if the governemnt was approached by private industry or was this an idea floated by large public company suppliers to the governments internal "industrialists"?

    I am not trying to appear negative. I am trying to form a debate that will prevent the repeat of previous failed exercises. Moreover exercises that led, in the end, to the collapse of whole sectors of British Industry.

    The Register has shown, with their masterful snatch of the governments URL, the capacity of the free minded individual to move very quickly indeed to fill a need. What has been missing for decades now has been a source of Free Enterprise based funding for those self same "individuals" from the capital base of the nation..... that left them free....... to compete against the largest companies.

    It is not new government inspired "exercises" we need, it is simply better access to free market capital to get on and do what we are already very good at, given the chance to succeed.

    The nations success comes from masterful action by small groups of individuals demonstrating verve and imagination. We need a capital base that supports that, not a return to government inspired intervention that eventually suppresses innovation in the long term interest of the largest companies, who are in turn keen to suppress the expansion of those smaller individualistic businesses that would otherwise be able to bid for the governments business. And why would I say that? I will bet my right arm that the costs of meeting the requirements to become "eligible" for support under the rules of the exercise being contemplated will make it impossible for the smaller innovative companies to even get through the door in the first place.

    With the greatest of respects Lord Digby Jones, you are a large public business, large government person and you have just been left in a cloud of dust by a classic "Turbinia" style action by The Register. You need to learn to trust the imaginations of all those individuals that, given the chance and access to the free enterprise capital they need to compete, would lead the way forward to new success for the nation, but in competition against the interest of all the largest public companies that today you appear to ..........represent......?

  62. Slaine

    why not...

    ...put the entire dot-gov site on

  63. peter Silver badge

    FOIA request?


    "Would we be correct in thinking that traffic to your splendid registered-users-only consultation site has in the interim been in the high severals?"

    How about a Freedom of Information Act request to find out? And while you're about it, throw in a few more telling questions - like, "How many people have registered?"

  64. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: FOIA request?

    I was proposing to ask that very question shortly, just after I'd refreshed my memory on the Cabinet Office consultation guidelines. My own registration attempt has so far yielded nothing but silence, and I'd be pleased to hear from anybody who has successfully made it past whatever multi-headed mutt they have guarding their select discussion group.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    UKTI get a consultancy in to do a marketing exercise. Site URL gets promoted before it's registered. El Reg grabs it.

    Revisionism ensues. "Small typo"? Cough, cough. More likely "Oops, grab a new URL before UKTI kick us into next week".

    For once, this doesn't smell like the Govt's fault.



  66. John

    Reg Tariff

    Why not put the Register's Tariff on it? I forget how many pints it takes to gain a news story under the Diamon plan.

    Or perhaps change the 'integrity. we've heard of it' to "data integrity. we've heard of it"

  67. Charley

    High severals? I don't think so.

    Submitted details for registration about a day ago. Still no "confirmation email". Maybe they're too busy registering ?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we have...

    ...a landing page with all El Reg essentials - units table and conversion tool, updates on the current IT Angle (last seen at around 87 degrees), Paris-related tat, current pricelists for endorsements (I think the previous beer tarrifs are a bit out of date) and funniest comments of the week. Or something.

  69. Charley

    Possibly not even single digits?

    Still no reply.

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