Public misunderstands reasons for .cn pullout.
[Update: see comments from Go Daddy Group Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Christine Jones.] I really don’t think Go Daddy was trying to pull off a publicity stunt yesterday with its testimony before a Congressional Commission yesterday. GoDaddy announced it was no longer offering China’s .cn domain name, and clearly laid out the hassle it would have to undertake to continue offering the domain name.
But it appears most people have read this as a principled moved against human rights violations in China. A lot of news articles over the past 24 hours have suggested this, and you’ll find hundreds of tweets like this one:
Look, even if Go Daddy takes issue with human rights and privacy in China, this was initially a business decision. You can’t charge $30 for a domain name registration if you’ll also be required to collect paperwork from the customer for each domain in advance, and not complete the registration until you get approval from the registry. That doesn’t make financial sense.
I think Jeff Eckhaus of eNom summed it up well in an AP story:
…eNom Inc., wants to continue offering “.cn” Web addresses, but is worried that the changes China has ordered “could make it almost impossible to do it,” said Jeffrey Eckhaus, general manager at eNom.
Go Daddy had registered only 27,000 .cn domain names, a small number for the world’s largest domain name registry. Registering more domains with a manual process would be cost prohibitive. Also, the registrar is having to spend substantial money to go back to its existing 1,200 .cn customers and ask them for paperwork. No registrar in their right mind would put up with that.
And Go Daddy isn’t alone — many other registrars haven’t resumed offering .cn domain names.
Update: I talked to Christine Jones this afternoon. She said that, on balance, this decision was about handing sensitive personal information to the Chinese.
Even at its 29.99 registration price, Jones said Go Daddy could offer .cn domain names profitably with the administrative hassle. But it doesn’t feel comfortable providing this information to the Chinese government.
Because of the relatively high registration price for .cn domains, Jones said that a higher percentage of the existing 27,000 registrations made at Go Daddy are for developed web sites. Still, only 20% of the people they contacted telling them of the new requirements responded. This means the registrants either can’t or don’t feel comfortable providing the documents.
Jones said Go Daddy will again offer .cn domain names if China drops the new identification requirements.