National

Former Japanese government domain name up for auction, sparking fear of misuse

JIJI

A domain name used for a now-expired government incentive program has been up for sale in an online auction, sparking concern about possible misuse.

The domain name, eco-points.jp, was put up for auction at a major auction site Aug. 1. Bids will be accepted until Wednesday.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, 36 bids had been placed, with the highest one exceeding ¥330,000.

The name was formerly used by the secretariat of the program, which was launched in 2009 to grant shopping points to promote purchases of energy-efficient consumer electronics and housing.

The program was run by the Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.

The Eco-point program ended in 2014, but the environment and internal affairs ministries still had links to the domain on their websites as of Monday.

“It was inappropriate that links (to the domain) were kept on our website,” an Environment Ministry official said. “We’ll delete them after confirming details. We’ll also ask other government bodies to delete any such links.”

Government guidelines require ministries and agencies to delete links and take other measures when they relinquish domain names. This is to prevent third parties from using the domain names to disguise themselves as government-linked entities.

Around 2018, a third party opened a disguised website using a domain name that the Japan Tourism Agency had given up.

Links to the domain were kept on the agency’s website after the opening of the disguised website, which led visitors to an online gambling site.

In May 2018, the agency issued a warning that the domain has nothing to do with the agency.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5