(This post was originally made a few months ago at the loose wire blog. As part of efforts to streamline Loose Wire’s online activities, the material at loose wire cache is being moved to the blog. A list of the resources can be under either the Resources list in the sidebar or the Resources category, also in the sidebar.)
It’s not necessarily a gloomy outlook for URL-shortening services like TinyURL and SnipURL.
In my previous post I explored the possibility that these services might be used, or might already have been used, by scammers to disguise a malicious link. The fear is that as they get more popular, and users unthinkingly click on them, they are used to conceal links to websites downloading malicious code, or containing dodgy material. But is there a possible happy ending to this?
Is there a way of turning the URl-clippers into services that help make the Internet more secure? Perhaps one way round this is for the services to offer ‘secure linkage’ where every link they process is vetted first for any or all of the above — fraud, malware, illegal or offensive material. Only then is the link passed onto the recipient.
Either the recipient or the sender could pay for this process: The recipient because they want to know that every email, or chat message, or even webpage they access has been thoroughly vetted, or sender because they want to reassure the recipient their content is safe and clean. The service itself runs every link through the same anti-virus, anti-fraud, anti-suspicious activity filters that Internet security companies use, and only then do they shorten it. That way the brand of the URL-clipper becomes a stamp of reliability.
Or is someone already doing this, and I just haven’t noticed?
If your favourite isn’t there, let me know. It’s not supposed to be a definitive list, just a ‘best of’.
(Loose Wire Cache is a companion website to this blog. Please note the new URL: www.loose-wire.com . Most resource pages can be reached by entering the website name and then the topic, for example www.loose-wire.com/readers . So far we have pages for Plaxo, MessageTag, Indexers, email clients and creating short URLs.)
From the I Didn’t Know I Was Breaking The Law Dept, you’ll be relieved to know that deep linking is now legal, at least in Germany. Thank God for that. Er, what is deep linking?
Basically a deep link takes you from one webpage to another page that isn’t the homepage on another website. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. But what if the link takes you to an article in a pay-as-you-surf database?
The excellent TechDirt website alerts us to a report that says the German Federal Court of Justice last week issued a verdict “holding that an online service which offers links to articles in a protected database is not in violation of copyright and competition law”, rejecting arguments that deep links deprive folk of revenue because they take users directly to news articles, bypassing introductory pages and advertising.
As the article says, a decision the other way may have eventually put an end to search engines, which are nothing more than a list of deep links. “Try to imagine the Internet without search engines!” the article concludes.