A recent move by Google to pull its business out of China made top headlines around the world. As Google controls nearly two-thirds of the world’s search results, it is definitely a big story when it makes a fundamental business decision to up and leave potentially the largest economy in the next 50 years to come. Yesterday, a story published in the Washington Post announced that GoDaddy, the largest domain name registrar, is also ceasing its service to lease out .CN (China) domain names. Does it not send a strong message to the Chinese government when two of the largest internet players are not interested in doing business in your country? Before we draw any hard conclusions, the reason for Google leaving China was due to censorship issues. Now GoDaddy is closing shop there due to recent Chinese regulations that any registrant of a new .CN domain name must provide a color head shot and other business identification, including a Chinese business registration number and physical signed registration forms to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a quasi-governmental agency. On the contrary, most domain name registries require only name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. One can only guess at what the Chinese government is trying to accomplish when imposing such strict guidelines but there may actually be some validity to this heavy-handedness.
Ability to Easily Hide Online Leads to More Stolen Content and Malware Sites
Consider this trend. Is there not an increasing amount of spam and hacking coming out of .CN IP addresses? You just have to ask your data center. Or read publications like The Register who published that “Domains in the PR of China rank second behind only those in Cameroon (.cm) as the most likely to harbour malware, according to a survey by McAfee published earlier this month.”
I for one think it makes good sense to know exactly who owns a domain name as this brings accountability to a world where hackers can easily hide behind IP addresses. For what it’s worth, I believe services that allow a domain owner to stay hidden are doing a dis-service to all web site owners out there. Whatever the reasons may be for some domain owners to hide their contact information, I am willing to wager that most of the domains that have their WHOIS info hidden are in fact hiding for a reason. Most likely, they are using these domains as a place to publish black-hat content; whether that be copyright infringed content or other types of spam and malware related content.
What Will Happen to GoDaddy Customers?
Every organization has a say as to how they want to do business. GoDaddy’s response was to leave China. The one question now is what will happen to the current customers who have already registered .CN domains through GoDaddy? I wonder how / if the company will help them renew these .CN domain names.
A Day When There is No More Copyright Infringement
What China has put into policy is a little strict in my opinion but I for one welcome the day when more accountability comes into the world of domain registration. There has got to be a way for great companies like GoDaddy to pioneer the way and help protect their customers from all the spamming, site scraping and malware web sites out there. I can only dream of an Internet where there is no need to police and shut down websites for copyright infringement or malicious activities. If the new policies in China are effective, we can hope that day will come sooner rather than later. But that will only be true if the rest of the world will follow China’s policy to up requirements for registering a domain name. We can only wait and see. Let me end this article by asking domain owners this question. Similar to verifying a Paypal account with a valid email, bank account or credit card number, do you think the industry should be moving towards some sort of a verification system for renewing and registering a domain name?