If you’ve ever been issued a traffic ticket by a red light or speeding camera, you will revel in the bittersweet justice one lucky recipient bestowed upon his local nanny state police department.
Upon receiving a speeding ticket in the mail, Brian McCrary followed the citation’s payment instructions and attempted to pay his $90 fine on the Bluff City Police Department’s (BCPD) website. Much to his surprise, he discovered its domain name was about to expire.
Instead of paying his fine, McCrary saw it as a rare opportunity to literally ‘pay back’ the police department for violating his civil liberties with ‘Big Brother’ traffic cameras.
“Now that McCrary is the proud owner of the site, http://www.bluffcitypd.com, the Gray, Tenn., computer network designer has been using it to post links about speed cameras – like the one on U.S. Highway 11E that caught him – and how people don’t like them,” reports the Bristol Herald Courier.
You might be thinking, “Wow! This guy is totally screwed,” but in actuality, McCrary’s purchase of the police department’s expiring domain is totally legal.
Go Daddy, the website hosting company used by the BCPD to purchase its domain name, told the Herald Courier that it provided the BCPD with ample notice of its expiring domain name and encouraged immediate renewal to avoid losing it forever. In fact, Go Daddy Domain Services Director Camille Ede said her company “replaces the website’s content with a special warning notice letting the site’s visitors know the domain has expired and will be deleted or sold in 42 days.”
McCrary, a computer network designer, saw this domain expiration notice and assumed the BCPD “would be aware [it was about to expire] and renew it on their own.”
“I was going to give [the BCPD] a call and noticed their domain was about to expire,” said McCrary, who gave the police department 42 days to renew its expiring domain. “As soon as it expired I went ahead and bought it.”
BCPD Chief David Nelson, clearly embarrassed by the situation, admitted to the Herald Courier that he is not computer savvy and didn’t play an “active role” in ensuring his website remained under department control versus that of a ticked-off citizen with an axe to grind.
“It just slipped my mind,” Nelson said. “If you open up a website and let it go down, somebody can buy it – I did not know that.”
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