In part this is due to the relatively weak statement made reversing their position, while failing to mention anything about withdrawing the statements made on the record to Congress. In the letter, GoDaddy's General Counsel did not just generally support the bill. She specifically defended its worst elements.
Here are some of the highlights:
The solutions outlined in SOPA clearly present a thoughtful and comprehensive approach.
This bill cannot reasonably be equated with censorship. This bill promotes action pursuant to preexisting criminal and civil laws.
The Senate's standard for action is a site "dedicated" to infringement. SOPA's standard is similar. It is unfathomable to me how one page amidst a million could possibly qualify under any such standard.
I'm finding that most of the concerns on the substance out there are unfounded. The notion that the solutions that have been put forth will break the Internet, or that certain legal businesses will go off-line because of new mandates is utterly unconvincing to me.
Of course most of this is complete nonsense. There is nothing in the bill which specifies that action must be in any way limited to enforcing existing laws. No specific conditions are listed in SOPA (or the Senate's PIPA for that matter) which could be used to determine whether a website would qualify for blacklisting.
In fact, during the recent markup hearings on the bill, an amendment was proposed which would specify those conditions. That amendment was rejected. Ultimately that means a judge would have much more latitude in deciding whether a website may be blacklisted and setting the standards for defense. By extension, a lawyer asking for action would have more latitude in his arguments.
As to whether SOPA (or PIPA) would harm the infrastructure of the Internet or pose a threat to legitimate businesses, those are claims made by many of the most respected Internet engineers and entrepeners, and even law professors, in the US. To suggest they are all wrong just makes GoDaddy look foolish.
Continuing to backpedal furiously, GoDaddy released another short statement yesterday explaining that they also do not support the slightly less draconian version of SOPA, called PIPA. Apparently that hasn't stemmed the tide of domain name transfers because today they finally withdrew their official support for SOPA with the House of Representatives.
However, they have also been accused of using more underhanded tactics to block domain name transfers from at least one competing registrar. Yesterday that competitor, NameCheap, complained about it on their blog:
As many customers have recently complained of transfer issues, we suspect that this competitor is thwarting efforts to transfer domains away from them.
Specifically, GoDaddy appears to be returning incomplete WHOIS information to Namecheap, delaying the transfer process. This practice is against ICANN rules.
The problem was ultimately addressed, and in a statement to TechCrunch GoDaddy pointed the finger at NameCheap. They claimed this was the result of their normal (and ICANN approved) policy of limiting WHOIS results to combat abuse, and that NameCheap needed to contact them to avoid the problem.
NameCheap, however, says otherwise. They responded with another statement saying GoDaddy's failure to respond to them was what prompted their blog post:
I understand that a number of publications have received a note from GoDaddy's PR team saying that "to the best of [their] knowledge," we hadn't reached out. This is quite untrue as our upstream technicians had made attempts to reach out directly.
That said, it was known for almost a full 24 hours that we were blocked from having the transfers go through. In efforts to be fully transparent about the delays which were greatly upsetting to our customers, we posted this after reaching out to GoDaddy as we had no response.
We updated this post long before any publication came out with GoDaddy's PR response to say that GoDaddy did confirm that they unblocked us. We wouldn't have known that if there was no communication.
The worst may still be yet to come for GoDaddy. It isn't until later this week, on December 29, that a mass transfer of domain names organized via Reddit was scheduled to occur. GoDaddy's slow response to the issue may have changed some minds, but it remains to be seen how many.
And, of course, the transfers so far are only from people who decided to react immediately and could afford to do so less than two weeks before Christmas. The full effect may not be known for many months.
It's worth noting that a lack of support is not the same as opposition. GoDaddy was a lot more forceful in their support of SOPA than they have been in opposing it. They may need that same level of zeal to convince some customers to stay. No doubt others will be unconvinced no matter what GoDaddy does.
Let's not forget, GoDaddy isn't just any registrar. They are the largest one in the world by a wide margin, handling nearly a third of all domain name registrations. But the number of domains transferred so far still represents a hit to their bottom line, and no company can ignore that.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 27 Dec 2011 18:01