Cybersquatting, the fact of occupying a site or a space on the Internet that should be occupied by someone else, concerns more and more Internet users.

Pierre Bonis, the managing director of the French Association for Internet Naming, mentioned this phenomenon on Europe 1.

Imagine that you stumble upon a site that bears your name?

You would not be aware, and the site would not really offer content in accordance with your wishes ... It is a phenomenon little known to Internet users.

However, cybersquatting, which can be likened to identity theft or a scam without being illegal, is spreading more and more on the web.

Each year, 200 cases of cybersquatting are reported to the French Association for Internet Naming in Cooperation (AFNIC).

Pierre Bonis, the managing director of AFNIC, was the guest of

 Culture media

on Europe 1 to explain this phenomenon, up 38% between January and September 2019.  

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What is cybersquatting?

"Cybersquatting is the fact of occupying a space on the internet which could or should be occupied by someone else", explains Pierre Bonis.

It is, for example, to take the domain name of a company or a personality, without having any links with them.

"There are several interests: reselling this space to the legitimate person who should occupy it, carrying out scams by pretending to be a big brand or an e-commerce site and recovering credit card numbers. Another reason can be be revenge, as for example when business partners separate: one of them will take the name of his partner to prevent him from going on the internet. The motive of cybersquatting is never a good motive " , he assures.

Who is affected?

Cyber ​​squatting can affect any Internet user, but more often famous people and even more companies.

"Most of the time they are companies, either brands or their names. It is also often the public power, for example when a ministry announces the opening of a site but it forgot to register the name domain ", details the CEO of AFNIC.

What to do when you are a victim of cybersquatting?

Internet users have the possibility to file a request with AFNIC if they consider themselves wronged by cybersquatting.

"We must seize to designate this domain name which constitutes cybersquatting. In less than two months we respond and if the response is positive we return the domain name", explains Pierre Bonis.

"It's arbitration, a mini-procedure with the defense and the applicant to find out if we can return the domain name to the person who requested us or leave it to the person who uses it. right to the requester in more than half of the cases. But sometimes requesters don't realize that cybersquatters are not doing anything illegal. "

How to protect yourself from this?

As cybersquatting is not illegal, Pierre Bonis advises Internet users to protect themselves from it by "building your online presence".

"You cannot be absent from the internet and try to hunt those who pretend to be you. You have to occupy the ground. From the moment you do that, you are legitimate to fight against the cybersquatters", advises he.

"If you haven't, you are not legitimate and it is very complicated to say that this person does not have the right to talk about you. You have to be able to say that this person is pretending to be you and interferes with your communication. So you have to build your online presence. "  

An example of cybersquatting: Stéphane Bern and the heritage lottery

Stéphane Bern was thus the victim of cybersquatting.

The heritage mission launched by the host does not own the loto-patrimoine domain name, which was registered by another Internet user.

The host of the program

Historically yours

on Europe 1 learned about it by chance a year ago.

"There are always good souls calling you to say that they found a giant statue of Stéphane Bern on the heritage lottery site. I was also asked if I had to pay to receive money afterwards. of the heritage lottery, while it is a game with a scratch card, you shouldn't buy anything. I realized that my name and that of the heritage lottery were being used abusively, ”says the host.

"When you draw this site, it takes you to Ireland and to foreign countries where French law does not apply. You have no protection either of your identity or of what you do, you feel very helpless. It's not a scam because they abuse gullibility and play with words. The official site is "

The person who registered the domain name loto-patrimoine was able to take the opportunity to monetize his website. "It's pretty well done, but nothing has been put forward demonstrating a scam. These are sites that will talk trivia about the lotto but there are a lot of ads, it's a way to monetize the celebrity of Stéphane Bern and of the heritage mission, "explains Pierre Bonis. AFNIC was seized of this case and decided to reject the request of the Française des jeux, partner of the heritage mission. "But the FDJ can come back with a better record, and then we will probably give a positive response."