Has the Bell Tolled for GoDaddy?

I thought I'd write this quick post in the middle of my holiday time off. Yeah, I need to work on not working when I take time off. :)

There are a few news items circulating this morning regarding GoDaddy's SOPA mess. After intense, negative publicity about GoDaddy's support for SOPA spread like wildfire across the InterWebs -- and people responded by moving their domains -- GoDaddy reversed its stance yesterday afternoon. (See http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/23/godaddy-no-longer-supports-sopa/)

At the time, some of us on G+ viewed this letter and their intent with skepticism. Today, I think our skepticism may be warranted.

Apparently the exodus -- and the continued threat of losing additional customers -- was so great that GoDaddy is calling customers who are in the process of transferring their domains to reconsider. (See http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/12/24/desperation-go-daddy-calling-customers-begging-them-to-stay/)

But the tidbit I find most puzzling is in the linked-to article below. Jon Dowland (http://twitter.com/jmtd) discovered this article and posted a link on Twitter. A number of people retweeted it and that is how it came to my attention.

According to the article, at last week's SOPA hearings, House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith introduced an amendment to the Stop Online Piracy Act that, along with other provisions in the bill, would "excluded certain operators of sub-domains, such as GoDaddy.com, from being subject to shutdowns under SOPA." The amendment passed, becoming part of the proposed SOPA legislation.

This would seem to indicate that GoDaddy knew that its business could not be hurt by the passage of SOPA. They could very well have been showing support for the bill to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other registrars.

But, to be fair, it is not clear if all registrars fall under the same exceptions. What does the word "certain" in the above quoted section of the article mean? Perhaps this amendment does not give GoDaddy or any other registrar an advantage. It is not clear if Rep. Jared Polis, who is credited with the quote, was simply using GoDaddy as an example of a domain registrar. After all, GoDaddy is the best-known registrar.

Even though in yesterday's open letter reversing their stance on SOPA GoDaddy stated that they would work with the "Internet Community & Fellow Tech Leaders to Develop Legislation We All Support" , I believe they are disingenuous and simply got caught with all of their fat hands in the cookie jar. If they truly did not know about Smith's amendment, it is still hard to get past the fact that they would support a bill in the first place that's so insidiously destructive to free speech and the Internet's health.

If anyone needed additional reasons to transfer their domains from GoDaddy and move their hosting accounts (if you have any with them), this should be the final straw. Next week I plan to begin the process myself.

Update: According to the website, Fight For The Future, GoDaddy apparently still supports PIPA. https://plus.google.com/112526081195315983895/posts/GNtR4xMDWbL

#SOPA #PIPA #FreeInternet #StopCensorship
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