GoDaddy Experiences Massive SOPA Backlash

    December 27, 2011

So, what’s worse? Bad PR due to the perhaps unnecessary killing of a wild elephant or a mass exodus due to supporting one of the most combative pieces of legislation to address the Internet, perhaps ever?

News of GoDaddy’s support of SOPA hit its crescendo over the Christmas weekend, spurred on by Jimmy Wales’ announcement of his intentions to move Wikipedia’s domain away from GoDaddy’s service:

I am proud to announce that the Wikipedia domain names will move away from GoDaddy. Their position on #sopa is unacceptable to us. 3 days ago via web · powered by @socialditto

From there, the exodus from GoDaddy began in earnest. All told, the registrar service lost over 70,000 domains, and that’s when the backtracking and double talk began. Of course, when large portions of the Internet population are speaking out against your service on sites like Reddit, and there’s a “Boycott GoDaddy” site getting attention, it’s hard not to respond, unless recent GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons enjoys watching his flock flee.

And flee they did. In fact, one of GoDaddy’s competitors, Namecheap, wrote a blog post discussing how GoDaddy was not facilitating the transfer process by returning “incomplete WHOIS information,” an accusation the domain registrar denied in a statement to CNet, which, in part, says:

Because some registrars (and other data gathering, analyzing and reporting entities) have legitimate need for heavy port 43 access, we routinely grant requests for expanded access per an SOP we’ve had in place for many years. Should we make contact with Namecheap, and learn they need similar access, we would treat that request similarly.

However, GoDaddy’s handling of transferring domains was not the issue at hand. Instead, the company’s support of SOPA/PIPA was the driving force behind the defections. So much so, in fact, GoDaddy issued a press release saying they no longer supported SOPA — conveniently leaving out PIPA — as they tried to reverse the course many of their ex-customers were taking.

The release is complete with a “please don’t go” feel:

“Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation – but we can clearly do better,” Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO, said. “It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.”

Considering GoDaddy was potentially exempt from SOPA’s punitive actions, it’s clear GoDaddy’s SOPA reversal is motivated by business, or the loss thereof.

Was your domain registered through GoDaddy’s service? Does their previous (wink, wink) support of SOPA/PIPA inspire you to leave GoDaddy? Let us know what you think.