Please read the arstechnica article then continue on to our statement.
For many people, a domain name is more than a piece of digital real-estate, it is their livelihood, their ability to express themselves freely and connect with others. Recently, GoDaddy removed a domain off of the Internet with no notice, no due process and no concern for any impact their actions might have caused. Jotform.com was taken offline at the request of a single U.S. government employee. No court hearing, no motions, just a simple request. Removing jotform.com off of the Internet was a spineless act by GoDaddy, devoid of any consideration for due process. It was only after GoDaddy’s suspension of JotForm became public knowledge that the appropriate technical records were put back in place, a review was conducted, and the domain re-activated. The loss to JotForm’s reputation and business has yet to be fully calculated.
In the past 10 years, the Internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives. From Facebook and Twitter to banking and tele-medicine, the net has woven itself into the very fabric of human existence. The Internet allows the smallest tweet to become an avalanche of social change. One of the great luminaries of the Internet, Jon Postel, realized the power that a simple DNS domain could have. Postel was the originator of the idea that a name could represent a jumble of computer addresses. Today, a single domain name can be worth millions, provided that it is allowed to function properly on the Internet.
Most developed societies have established the concept of due process. A set of procedures established by an administrative body that ensures that your freedoms, our freedoms, are not encroached upon arbitrarily. This continual attack on due process in relation to domain names is an attack on the very principles of free speech and free enterprise. Some of our competitors are accomplices in this trend to trash domain ownership rights. It needs to stop.
Your registrar, someone like GoDaddy, Register.com, or EasyDNS is responsible for the magic behind the scenes. With this latest affront to freedom, your choice of who manages your domain name is more crucial than ever.
At EasyDNS, we take our responsibility to protect our customers’ digital real estate very seriously. We manage domains ranging in size from small “mom and pop” businesses to international companies who measure their worth in billions. A large part of that responsibility is ensuring that due process is followed. We have clearly defined our Terms of Service, which outline our commitment to our customers and how we protect their domain(s) while they are entrusted to our care.
We have deep respect for law enforcement. We have worked major cases with various agencies. When presented with the appropriate court orders, we will comply. When the law allows, we involve our customers and their legal counsel in any proceeding that affects the availability of their domain.
For someone in GoDaddy’s legal department, opening a browser window or picking up the phone to contact JotForm might have seemed too much work, but as a registrar they have a duty to their customers. GoDaddy has a duty to the entire Internet community to support the concept of due process. When GoDaddy short-circuits due process to save time and money, they push the standards and compliance expectations for all of us in the wrong direction. As an industry that is intertwined in the very fabric of daily life, domain owners should expect better.
We are glad to see JotForm back on line. We wonder how many smaller domains would have been so lucky.
With GoDaddy’s support of SOPA and this recent episode, we have to ask a key question: Is that discount domain worth it?
We realize customers are seeking value in a tough economy. We urge people to consider the cost of freedom when dealing with a company that appears to be more focused on their spokes-model’s “bottom line” and their own backside versus protecting their customers.