Man behind rogue Colin Craig website reveals himself

One-time Green Party candidate behind parody site. UPDATED with comment from perpetrator Max Coyle | Colin Craig sees possible Electoral Act breach.

LATEST: Has ColinCraig.co.nz creator breached Electoral Act, as the real Colin Craig claims? Law prof weighs in

The formerly anonymous person behind satire site  ColinCraig.co.nz has revealed themselves.

InternetNZ 's Domain Name Commission (DNC) site now lists former Green Party candidate Max Coyle of Hamilton as the person who registered the URL.

Mr Coyle did not immediately return NBR's call [UPDATE: See comments from Mr Coyle end of story]

Colin Craig told NBR he had a team looking at the issue. Options include entering the DNC's Disputes Resolution process in a bid to gain control of ColinCraig.co.nz, or legal action through the courts. He will make a decision when he returns from travelling tomorrow night.*

The Conservative leader says ColinCraig.co.nz could constitute a breach of the Electoral Act. "In my view it's electioneering. There's no question it's attempting to contribute to electoral debate, so under the Electoral Act it should feature authorisation and attribution."

Mr Craig added, "It doesn't surprise me a former Green candidate is behind the site. As most people know I've taken Russel Norman to task."

Earlier, Mr Craig told TV3 the site was also "probably defamatory."

Who is Max Coyle? 
A Max Coyle account on LinkedIn, whose contact information matches that listed for Max Coyle on the DNC site, lists him as Publishing Manager at Western Community News, and says he was the Green Party's social media director at the 2011 election.

Mr Coyle was also a Green Party candidate at the 2011 election, but stood down after allegedly misleading the Waikato Times

His profiles says that from between February to November 2013 he worked for Herald publisher APN in a sales role.

Mr Coyle gained minor notoriety in December last year when he told Justice Minister Judith Collins to "go kill yourself you despicable human."

ColinCraig.co.nz went live Tuesday, and quickly went viral. With Mr Coyle at that point anonymous, Domain Name Commissioner Debbie Monahan told NBR the DNC's Disputes Resolution process could not kick off until the person who registered the domain was identified. 

The DNC would not suspend ColinCraig.co.nz in the mean time unless it was faced with "an appropriate court order," Ms Monahan said.

Now Mr Coyle has come forward, Mr Craig has the option to enter the DNC's "Level One" Dispute Resolution option, which is a free informal process if both parties agree.

The DNC offers a $2000 "Level Two" Dispute Resolution option, where a panel of retired judges consider a spat over who has rights to a web address, plus a $7000 "Level Three" process if one of the parties wants to appeal.

Mr Craig has also said ColinCraig.co.nz constitutes a possible breach of the Electoral Act.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

* In terms of approaching the Domain Name Commission I think it's important to note there are two separate issues here. One is whether ColinCraig.co.nz's satire is defamatory. Personally, I have no time for this theory. If you go into politics, you've got to expect parody, and even an element of school-yard bullying over superficial issues like how you walk or talk. While legal options are open, the only politicially-viable response is to be faster on your feet than your rivals, a la David Lange.

The second issue is whether a person or a company has the right to their name online. Usually this has nothing to do with politics. It's more likely to be a commercial rival bagging your company's name as a website address, or a cybersquatter sitting on it and trying to shake you down for a few dollars to gain rights to the URL. Here, Max Coyle strays into especially dodgy territory with the ColinCraig.co.nz Contact info page, which has realistic email colin@colincraig.co.nz that anyone executing a Google search (and not seeing parody home page) could assume is Mr Craig's real address (which is in fact colin@conservativeparty.org.nz). It's good to see the DNC has dispute resolution procedures in place and that, behind the scenes, this case has been nudged along.

It was good to see that with its new ".nz" domain option (e.g. NBR.nz rather than NBR.co.nz), there's a The Preferential Registration Eligibility (PRE) period that will run through to March 30, 2015. Existing holders of .nz domain names will have different options open to them, depending on when they originally registered their name, the DNC says. They may, for example, be able to get the shorter version of their name before anyone else, reserve it for free for two years or manage conflicted name issues. Good to see. Satire can be fun. But as Lance Wiggs once said, stealing someone's domain name is an "ass hat move". CK


Max Coyle responds

Max Coyle did not return NBR's call to his cellphone, but did txt that he would send an email.

An email arrived from the bogus Colin Craig email address listed on ColinCraig.co.nz. It read:

The idea behind that site was a bit of a have, we mostly just copied what the real Colin Craig says and what's on his website.

The only criticism we've had is from people that quite rightly pointed out that Colin is his own ball of satire and the website and twitter account weren't even necessary.

I think for a party thats not in Parliament, Colin Craig gets a huge amount of media coverage. Far greater than any other minor and non-parliamentary party and often more than NZFirst, a party with 7 MPs. I really think Peter Dunne is a bit down in the dumps over it.

Have I been given notice by the Domain Name Commission? No, no I have not. Also the Domain Name Commission can only shut down our site if we remained anonymous or if Colin Craig happened to own a company named Colin Craig (which he doesn't) and after  he stated that we wouldn't come forward... well its always nice to prove a politician wrong. Though now that its out of the bag, whether its still needed is the question, people can just go to his actual site for a laugh.

Am I concerned about Colin Craig taking legal action? I think Colin throwing his weight around used to be an issue but I think he's been doing it so much that things have really slimmed down
in that area. More than happy to butter up for a bunfight with old CC and Dry if it comes down to it. 

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