Dr. Libshitz can't get an e-mail address

The Internet is full of filth.

No e-mail address for you.

No e-mail address for you.

Comcast did not respond to my request for comment. When I visited its Web site chat interface as a potential customer, however, and asked a representative about creating an account with the name "Lipshitz," the rep told me that the system would block it: "I am sorry, the same with other providers, username with profanity words are not allowed by the server."

As for Gmail, a spokesperson responding by sending me two basic excerpts from the service's online FAQ -- one explaining that a username may be unavailable to "prevent spam or abuse," and another explaining why all usernames must contain at least six letters. When I tried to obtain specifics about the policy and to ask about the best course of action for people with blocked names, the spokesperson stopped responding to my calls and e-mail messages.

AT&T did not respond to multiple requests for information. I attempted to log on to its online chat interface as a customer, but its representatives told me I would have to complete the sign-up process before I could see whether any specific username would be accepted.

George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words

For what it's worth, the Webmail providers are split when it comes to blocking the "seven dirty words" made famous by George Carlin's comedy routine. (Don't click through to this list if you are easily offended. In fact, if you're easily offended, why are you reading this story at all?)

Of the seven that Carlin identifies, we've already covered the one that cost Dr. Libshitz so much grief. Four of the other entries -- the two most obviously vulgar four-letter words and the two multisyllable selections -- are banned at AOL Mail, Google, Hotmail, and Yahoo. The two remaining words on Carlin's list, curiously enough, are permitted at all four Webmail providers.

Your Name, Not Your Right

So where does all of this leave the Libshitzes and Cockburns -- not to mention the Heinie Manushes -- of the world? Nine times out of ten, they may just be out of luck.

"As a basic tenet of American law, you do not necessarily have a right to use your name," explains Theodore Claypoole, an attorney specializing in intellectual property and consumer data treatment with the law firm of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, and Rice.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags email

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?