Is GoDaddy trying to thwart the anti-SOPA boycott?
By End the Lie
In a shocking development in the massive boycott being organized over GoDaddy’s support of – not to mention major role in writing – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), NameCheap has accused GoDaddy of maliciously erecting technical barriers to impede customers’ efforts to leave the registrar.
NameCheap, which I actually use myself as I have never been a supporter of GoDaddy even before their role in the draconian anti-internet freedom legislation known as SOPA in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the House, has been a vocal opponent of the legislation.
In fact, NameCheap’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Kirkendall made a remarkably strongly worded statement against SOPA just last week.
“While we at Namecheap firmly believe in intellectual rights, SOPA is like detonating a nuclear bomb on the internet when only a surgical strike is necessary. This legislation has the potential to harm the way everyone uses the Internet and to undermine the system itself,” Kirkendall said.
NameCheap has also acted to capitalize on GoDaddy’s support of SOPA by offering to move concerned customer’s domain names for a mere $6.99 when using the coupon SOPASUCKS and with every transfer they will also donate $1 to the venerable Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for their anti-SOPA efforts.
The EFF was also behind defending a security researcher when he was targeted by Carrier IQ for revealing the disturbing details of their software which is loaded on smartphones by most major carriers without users’ knowledge, so I find their offer to donate quite encouraging.
NameCheap isn’t alone in moving to tempt customers away from the now quite despicable GoDaddy. Indeed, no less than six companies are offering quite tantalizing discounts for those hoping to hit GoDaddy where it hurts.
With “move your domain day” coming up on December 29, I was a bit surprised to find that over 70,000 domains were moved away from GoDaddy just last week according to CNET.
Despite their early claims that it was not affecting their business, GoDaddy appears to be impacted by the backlash that has ensued due to their support for SOPA, even going as far as to call customers and beg them to return, according to Chris Heald.
The details of the technical barriers being imposed by GoDaddy have already been contested by the company, but NameCheap alleged that “GoDaddy appears to be returning incomplete Whois information to NameCheap, delaying the transfer process.
This is in direct violation of the rules put in place by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), but by yesterday afternoon, NameCheap said that GoDaddy “finally unblocked our queries” so that transfers should “go smoothly” from now on.
GoDaddy has already come out saying that NameCheap “has yet to contact Go Daddy directly, which would be common practice for situations like this,” while a NameCheap community manager refuted this by saying they indeed attempted “reaching out to GoDaddy” but in fact received “no response.”
NameCheap would not say exactly who they contacted at GoDaddy or when they did so, instead Kirkendall sent CNET a statement which said, “all we know on our side is that GoDaddy was preventing us from conducting normal business with our clients, and in turn causing harm to our reputation and at the same time overloading our support channels.”
As I previously covered, GoDaddy backed away from overt support of SOPA due to the massive boycott that has been organized against them, but have notably not gone as far as outright denouncing the legislation.
As TechDirt pointed out, GoDaddy is absurdly hypocritical in purporting to stand against the theft of intellectual property while offering up domains which “are perfect for infringing sites.”
One apt and telling example is seen if you try to buy the domain “Loreal.com” which belongs to the pro-SOPA L’Oréal Group you are offered some other options which would be perfect for a company breaching copyright law like LorealHome.com, LorealTime.com and LorealLife.com along with some country specific domains like Loreal.ag.
CNET also notes that if you search for “Chanel.com” they offer you RealChanel.com as an alternative, which would obviously be perfect for anyone selling products in violation of copyright law.
Before GoDaddy’s attempt to backtrack on their rabid support of SOPA, Godaddy’s General Counsel Christine Jones said that Domain Name System (DNS) blocking is an “effective strategy for disabling access to illegal” websites in her Congressional testimony.
Jones’ statement is a bit ridiculous given that a Firefox add-on called DeSopa has already been developed to circumvent this method of disabling access to allegedly infringing content.
SOPA has also been losing some support among conservatives, including the notoriously conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation which published an article by James Gattuso, a senior research fellow, which warned of “unintended consequences” of the legislation, and he isn’t the only one.
Twitter’s general counsel Alex MacGillivray, also former attorney for Google, came out against SOPA as well, pointing out that one user guilty of copyright infringement could very well cause an entire service to be shut down, with no way for innocent users to recover data.
The opposition to SOPA is clearly growing but unfortunately there are quite powerful lobbies backing up this legislation which could very well end the internet as we know it, something which I said earlier this month which was echoed by Adam Savage of Mythbusters and Popular Mechanics just six days later.
Hopefully coordinated boycotts like the one which is clearly threatening GoDaddy will continue to apply sufficient pressure to the corporations backing the legislation to the point that they will cave and come out openly against it.
Otherwise, we very well might have to install DeSopa and figure a way to get around this brutally restrictive legislation which Savage rightly characterized as “anticonstitutional.”