When Lamar Smith, Republican congressman from Texas, released the list of supporters for the Stop Online Piracy Act last week, he set off a firestorm of protest from activists on the Internet.
While the list is mostly media conglomerates and publishing companies like Time Warner, CBS, NBC, ABC, News Corporation, Sony, and Disney, it did include one technology company who is now facing a massive backlash and boycott, GoDaddy. There is even a tool to poll your favorite websites to see if they are registered with GoDaddy. Even though GoDaddy has since stated that they have reversed their position on SOPA, it has not stopped the bleeding and domain owners by the thousands have continued to migrate the registration of their domains to other registrars.
One of the providers who jumped in early and has taken advantage of the controversy is Namecheap.
Namecheap made a name for itself when it publicly stated its complete opposition to SOPA and offered discounts to those who wanted to transfer their domains to Namecheap. But Namecheap now says GoDaddy is making it harder for domain owners to move. In a blog post, Namecheap explains that there may be delays in the transfer process because GoDaddy is now returning incomplete WHOIS information to Namecheap, a process in violation of ICANN rules.
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.
We at Namecheap believe that this action speaks volumes about the impact that informed customers are having on GoDaddy’s business. It’s a shame that GoDaddy feels they have to block their (former) customers from voting with their dollars. We can only guess that at GoDaddy, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Thankfully, Namecheap has committed to manually processing transfer attempts that have failed.
Don’t worry – each and every transfer request will be processed manually by our team. Every request will go through. We won’t rest until everyone who wants to join the Namecheap family can do so!
Update: Ross Rader, General Manager of the registrar Hover, reached out to Neowin to let us know that they've not seen any issues with processing GoDaddy transfers:
This would be a serious violation of [GoDaddy's] ICANN accreditation if it were the case. Namecheap is an eNom reseller and it may be possible that eNom is experiencing more general issues. I wonder if this is a more localized issue than Namecheaps might be aware of. We've seen a wild and consistent increase in transfer-in activity in the last week and its not showing any signs of slowing up. I'd be surprised if GoDaddy was taking punitive action, and of course, it almost goes without saying that not a day goes by when something in this business doesn't surprise me.
GoDaddy has responded with email statement to TechCrunch, saying that Namecheap was not specifically blocked but that due to heavy amounts of WHOIS requests it was automatically rate blocked, a limit they have sinced removed.
Namecheap posted their accusations in a blog, but to the best our of knowledge, has yet to contact Go Daddy directly, which would be common practice for situations like this. Normally, the fellow registrar would make a request for us to remove the normal rate limiting block which is a standard practice used by Go Daddy, and many other registrars, to rate limit Whois queries to combat WhoIs abuse. ... Nevertheless, we have now proactively removed the rate limit for Namecheap, as a courtesy, but it is important to point out, there still may be back-end IP addresses affiliated with Namecheap of which we are unaware. For complete resolution, we should be talking to each other — an effort we are initiating since they have not done so themselves.
Namecheap has also responded to GoDaddy's statement that there was no contact between the two companies, saying:
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.
Namecheap also confirmed that now that the rate limiting is gone, they have been able to successfully process transfer requests.