Go Daddy drops .cn, but Chinese can still register domain names at the registrar.
In a hearing before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China today in Washington, Go Daddy Group Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Christine Jones explained that the company will no longer offer .cn domain names under strict requirements imposed by China.
On January 5, .Cn registry CNNIC announced without warning that non-Chinese registrars were no longer allowed to register .cn domain names to customers. This was part of a crack down on criminal activity and, most likely, free speech on .cn domain names. It then re-opened registration to registrars such as Arizona-based Go Daddy, but required them to collect a color headshot photo identification, business identification (including a Chinese business registration number), and physical signed registration forms from the registrant.
In light of the new requirements, Go Daddy decided to not re-introduce .cn registrations on its site.
But that’s where things get bad. China also required the 1,200 registrants who have registered 27,000 .cn domain names at Go Daddy to provide the same information — headshot, ID, and signed registration forms — or risk losing their domain names. Jones testified that only about 20% of Go Daddy customers provided this information and the others are at risk of losing their domain names.
Some media reports today are suggesting that Go Daddy will no longer offer registrations in China. But to be clear, it is merely dropping .cn as a registration option. Chinese citizens can still register unrestricted domain names such as .com through Go Daddy.
ICANN does not have control over what countries do with country code top level domain names. Other countries have made similarly retro-active moves, such as Argentina retroactively limiting the number of domains that could be registered.