As of yesterday, popular domain registrant GoDaddy has announced before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China today in Washington that it will stop registering “.cn” (China) domain names in light of China’s new restrictions that require more personally identifiable information from registrants.
A recent article explained that “.cn” registry CNNIC (China iNternet Network Information Center) announced, without warning on January 5, that non-Chinese registrars were forbidden from registering “.cn” domain names to customers. This was part of a crack-down on criminal activity and, very likely, free speech on “.cn” domain names.
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CNNIC then re-opened registration to registrars like Go Daddy, based in Arizona, but, according to GoDaddy’s Christine Jones, required them to obtain a color headshot photo ID along with additional business information. This information included business ID (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. The rules, representatives from GoDaddy said, are indicative of China’s efforts to increase surveillance of website content and can place people registering their sites with the firm at risk of violating China’s guidelines. The company also said the rules will have a “chilling effect” on new domain name registrations. Apparently, all domains, like .com, .net, etc., would have been subject to these constrictive rules.
GoDaddy’s move follows Google’s announcement Monday that no longer will it censor search results on its site in China. Analysts and human rights advocates have in the past warned that China’s insistence on censorship and control over information is becoming a serious barrier to trade. From the looks of things, it already has become.