Which? not to blame for porn gaffe

I write with reference to Amanda Wilkinson’s article entitled Which? pulls offer after porn blunder (MW July 29). This piece mentions a CD that we produce for people wishing to subscribe to our Internet service Which? Online. We have had a major business issue with our site this week as we discovered that Alta Vista had relinquished one of its domain names, Alta-Vista, to a pornographic Website in March of this year.

We are concerned that the article refers this to a Which? Online “blunder” as this is not actually the case, the effect goes far wider. In fact, anyone in the world, adults and children alike, who created a link to that particular address, before March 1998, will now find themselves pointing to a porn site. However, your readers should be made aware that it is not possible to access this site without using a credit card.

The CD mentioned in the article is our free trial CD that contains software required to browse the Internet, along with links (“bookmarks”) to various useful sites. What we discovered this week is that there is a special set of bookmarks for Apple Mac users and in this file we decided to include a link to an excellent Internet “search engine” Alta Vista. We produced the software for the CD in February, with a perfectly valid link to the Alta Vista search engine – approved by Alta Vista itself. Unbeknown to us, in March, the address that we had included on the CD changed hands from Alta Vista to a company which has chosen to use this domain name to secure hits on a pornography site.

We have taken immediate action to remedy this problem but it goes to show that everyone using the Internet for business or pleasure is exposed to exactly the same problems.

Mark Robson

Marketing manager

Which? Online

London NW1

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