domains Federal Lawmakers Push '.Gov' Web Addresses For Local Governments

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A new U.S. Senate bill comes amid concerns that online criminals can “spoof” the public with fake government websites.

Federal agencies and states tend to have website addresses that end in “.gov,” a signal to users that they’re clicking on official sources of government information.

But across local governments, domain names are more of a mixed bag and might end in “.com,” “.org,” or “.us.” While this may seem trivial, experts say it opens the door for “spoofing,” where criminals post imposter websites that can trick the public in a variety of ways.

Look-alike department of motor vehicle sites, where people can get scammed out of cash, or have personal information stolen, and artificial elections websites that might direct people to the wrong polling place, are just two potential examples.

“Anyone can get on a .com, .us, and we’ve seen a lot of instances of spoofing,” said Matt Pincus, director of government affairs for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. “From a citizen perspective, not being on .gov is really creating confusion.”

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