GoDaddy Faces PR Nightmare Over Domain Suspension

GoDaddy abrubtly suspends registration.

GoDaddy chief Bob Parsons is a big supporter of free speech. He’s also a big supporter of privacy as a way to do this by promoting domain whois privacy services.

That’s why the internet world was shocked today to learn that GoDaddy suspended a domain name,, based on the content on that site. MySpace contacted GoDaddy to suspend the registration because the site had information about MySpace users including their usernames and passwords. GoDaddy complied.

See’s explanation of what happened here.

To make matters worse, GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones responded by saying GoDaddy’s terms of service say the company “reserves the right to terminate your access to the services at any time, without notice, for any reason whatsoever”, according to the CNET article.

That attitude should make people think twice about registering domains with the company. I suspect that, although its in the terms and conditions, it’s not GoDaddy’s policy to terminate access to services for any reason.

What is a registrar’s role in enforcing the law? This is a topic of much debate. In July eNom came under pressure because one of its resellers registered a domain on behalf of a terrorist organization. Last year an organization tried to get a court order to force ICANN to suspend the registration of Spamhaus, an anti-spam site. Domain registars are also coming under fire to track registrations of typo domains that might be used for phishing attacks.

Generally speaking, a domain registrar supplies the domain but the content is hosted with the webhost. A webhost should be responsible for complying with requests to remove copyrighted content and remove sites that violate the law. In this case, MySpace probably contact GoDaddy because it’s a large company. Webhosts are often small and difficult to contact.

You can rest assured that Bob Parsons will blog about this issue. He has some explaining to do.


  1. Steven says

    This is not new. I had a recent experience with Tucows taking a name that was possibly a TM name. Tucows never received a letter from the company or a UDRP. They think they are authorized to “police” the internet. Once i realized it, I contacted Tucows and learned that they took control of the name for security (phishing) reasons. I had never modified the nameservers or done anything other than have the name parked. After speaking with Ross Rader, he told me they could take whatever names they deemed a potential risk and didn’t need to notify the domain name owner. After stealing my name, they used it in the exact manner in which i was using it. I had a PPC page on it and once they took control, so did they. They made money on my domain name for about 45 days during the holiday season which was it’s price earnings opportunity. Additionally, the name was aquired through their domain auctions. I contacted Icann and they choose not too respond or address the issue.

  2. Steve Carlson says

    GoDaddy is probably the worst registar because they censor domains they don’t even host.

    These are the same guys who run commercials that run up against FCC standards, but if they don’t like the ideas expressed on your website they will suspend or cancel your domain without notice.

    GoDaddy has crossed a line for which it should be boycotted. Go elsewhere if you want professional services and you’ll save money too.

  3. says

    It’s unfortunate some people are going to treat this as a free speech issue, which it’s not really “supposed” to be.

    The gist of that is the customer violated the terms of their registrar’s registration agreement. It’s unfortunate s/he had to learn that the hard way.

    People can believe A and registrars can believe B, no one can force the other to see things the way they want them to. But you DO agree to their terms anyway the moment you check the box beside “I have read the registration agreement and agree to its terms”.

    Awareness and responsibility is a two-way street. Be aware, be responsible.

    And of course, don’t use that service provider if you don’t agree to their terms at all.

  4. Chris says

    Bob Parsons is a big supporter of raking in money form GoDaddy, and nothing else. To do this, it means he has to pretend to be a “nice guy” – but actions speak louder than words, and I’ve lost count of the number of times GoDaddy have done this exact thing before.

  5. says

    Tucows did the same thing to me over TM names which is why I moved all my domains out of opensrs.

    I’ve heard about godaddy doing this stuff before which is why I only keep junk domains there.

    Of course the worst registrar is Registerfly. Registerfly stole hundreds of domains from me and is now monetizing them.
    This company is really evil.
    A class action suit is now forming against them.

  6. Editor says

    Mike, perhaps I should have elaborated on the circumstances. The site didn’t steal passwords. It is a mailing list archive site. One of the lists it archives posted the user information, so it automatically was archived on the site. The site owner didn’t know this and would have removed it immediately had he been told about it.

    Additionally, the information is readily available on the web and can be found doing a simple Google search. It would be like hosting the AOL search data information from a few months ago.

  7. David says

    Regardless of whether GoDaddy has the authority to seize or shut down sites under its TOS, the missing concept here is DUE PROCESS.

    GoDaddy has chosen to act on the advice of an outside party without seeking input or rebuttal from their loyal client. Judge, jury and executioner with the accused not even told about the trial !!!

    I have over a 1000 domains with GoDaddy, and Bob, (are you listening Bob ?) unless I have a rapid explanation of GoDaddy’s future protections for your clients against these sort of rogue accusations, all my domains are on their way to Moniker. One suspects though that there will be only deafening silence from president Bob.

  8. says

    Bob, what steps will GoDaddy take to ensure that a domain registered with your company will remain the property of the registrant? And when will this be implemented?

    I have more than 500 domains registered with GoDaddy and would prefer not to have to become a registrar to protect my domain name registrations, but if your company will not do it for me, you leave me no choice.

  9. Richard says

    MySpace complained to that the website in question was displaying what was purported to be a list of MySpace usernames and passwords that had been acquired by phishing. would have inspected the website and discovered the list was indeed displayed. What are they to do? In their view it was a clear breach of the ToS so they disabled the domain.

    Later, when the offending document had been removed, the domain name was re-enabled.

  10. says

    Bob, what steps will GoDaddy take to ensure that a domain registered with your company will remain the property of the registrant? And when will this be implemented?

    Colin, read any registrar’s registration agreement. None of them ever indicate domain names are property to begin with, and neither do they say registrants own them outright.

    Seriously you’re potentially setting yourself up for needless trouble if you insist on believing otherwise.

  11. Snap says

    This is my recent experience with GoDaddy:

    1. i registered a domain with a clever name with them (with nothing potentially suggestive in the name)
    2. godaddy accepted my registration and charged my credit card
    3. next day i have an e-mail just stating that they have accepted my charge-back request and refunded my card (even though I did not send any communications to them asking for that, I wanted the domain to be registered)
    4. my domain with a clever name seems to be suddenly owned (according to a whois search) by an un-known company called “Maltuzi LLC” in California
    5. I send a telefax to GoDaddy’s fax number, addressed to the “head of customer services”, demanding explanation and monetary compensation for their theft of my intellectual property
    6. suddenly my domain goes un-registered again, and i re-registered it with another registrar, no problems, and still no reply whatsoever from GoDaddy.

    I suppose GoDaddy thinks they can just do whatever they want and steal domains to sell them to other folks? Well, happily there are other choices around…

  12. Karl says

    GoDaddy are usually good at terminating domains belonging to spammers. That they happen to cut off some h4x0rs that publish phished account information is just a bonus.

    In anti-spam forums, GoDaddy have long been “white hat” (a.k.a. Good Guy) because of their good track record in terminating spammer domains. Recently, however, it seems like they are not as proactive, but hopefully that will change back again.

  13. Renzo says

    GoDaddy by their action have lost many potential customers.
    I have personally translated the article to 3 other languages and posted it in the forums that I participate in.
    Most people, especially those whom have their sites in a language other than English would like some re-assurance.
    With such action and Policy, I truly doubt that anyone would want to buy a domain with them.

    I personally am thankful that Fyodor decided to go public with this. Because I have an account with GoDaddy due to renewal, and like hell I would ever consider them ever again.

  14. Jeff says

    Judging by the types of comments I have read I wonder if people even know how the internet works. Some hosting companies are responsible for the content they host. But what about the people running their own servers. How is that controlled? The only groups that can fully monitor illegal or obscene content is the domain registrars. I for one would much rather see a site be shut down immediately than leave it up for 24 or 48 hours while waiting for a response from the owner of the site. If the data is illegal or obscene it should be removed immediately without prejudice.
    I commend GoDaddy for shutting the site down. I would hate to think what kind of content would still be up if registrars like GoDaddy didn’t shut down sites immediately.

  15. says

    Great job Godaddy. I have had my domains registered with them since 2001 and have never had any problems. Why? Because I dont try to do things that are illegal or against their TOS. If it had been the username/password for your hosting account or email account then I am pretty sure you wouldnt want them to wait for a response from the site owner to pull it down. You would want it done then and now.

  16. says

    yes I agree go daddy has always been very good about handling spam. good point, don’t try to do anything illegal and things like this won’t happen.

  17. says

    I have had my domains with a GoDaddy reseller and I have to say that GoDaddy is absolutely great in the services they provide. The world is not black and white and sometimes people have to make difficult decisions to protect the innocent. I can see why they may have felt compelled to find a reason to stop the less than honorable practice until the law can catch up with handling the issue. My opinions only.

  18. jeff says

    I actually had an account with go daddy. I used their domain name backorder service and paid for it for yeears. When my domain originaly was available a reseller bought it and put spam ads on the site. After the traffic wore down to nothing they let the renewal go. So i thought that woudl be my chance to finally get the name i wanted. Go daddy sends me an email saying they are in teh process of securing my name for me. They did secure it however for themselves. Then they sent me an email stating it was going to be placed in go daddy auctions and I had to bid for it. So not only did i pay for domain backordering and monitoring, now I have to pay an additional auction fee to join auctions, bid on my domain and then still pay the freaking domain registration fee on top of that. I cant believe how bad go daddy has screwed me on this. Why pay for backordering if they make your domain available to anyone at an auction?? I am so disgusted with the way they have handled this domain for me.

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