February 2, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Survey: Are domain registrars free-speech friendly?

(continued from previous page)

We have procedures for contacting individuals, but they are not mandatory because we reserve the right to take immediate action when warranted--e.g., obvious child porn or phishing. Other procedures are initiated when the customer is committing illegal activities, but we do not disclose those procedures publicly.

7. Do you believe that your most important responsibility is to provide technical services to paying customers--or is it to police the content of their Web sites, FTP sites, and so on?

We are willing to take action to remove obviously illegal content such as child porn and phishing sites from the Internet. We also believe that we have an important responsibility to work with government agencies in policing the Internet.

8. Are you attempting to recruit Go Daddy customers as a result of last week's news about Seclists.org?

No. Other companies have actively recruited our customers due to us shutting down child porn websites. We feel that it is unfortunate for companies to spread fear and uncertainty because of the good intentioned actions of a domain registrar.

9. If you do suspend domain names in the absence of a court order, how do your customers go about getting their sites restored?

When shut down for child porn, the owners almost never request to have the domain restored. Any restoration would be on a case by case basis.

10. Do you have a dedicated department or person who handles issues related to domain name suspensions?

Yes. We have two full time attorneys (in addition to myself) and two individuals who handle abuse complaints.

Dotster

did not participate We first spoke to Darcy Enyeart in Vancouver, Wash.-based Dotster's legal department on Monday afternoon, and she told us to e-mail our survey responses to legal@dotster.com. Since then, we have received no word directly from the company, despite follow-up phone calls and e-mail messages. On Thursday, we had a conversation with Lois Whitman at Dotster's outside PR agency, HWH Public Relations, who contacted us to send us an unrelated press release. When asked, Whitman told us that "no one at Dotster knows" anything about the request and did not provide us with a response to the survey.

eNom

did not participate We began leaving voicemail and e-mail messages with Bellevue, Wash.-based eNom's public relations department on Monday afternoon and continued that process on Tuesday. John Kane, the company's vice president of business development, called us back that afternoon, apologized for the delay in responding, and invited us to send our survey questions his way. We have not received any response from eNom since then, despite multiple follow-ups.

Gandi.net

completed survey Gandi.net takes a different approach to domain name registration: its home page, for instance, talks about "enlightenment." It's based in France and registers suffixes including .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .name, .be, .fr and .eu. The company sent us a statement explaining its philosophy as: "On our Web site, you will not find empty promises, sneaky advertisements or unwelcome surprises hidden up our sleeves. We simply strive to provide a decent and honest service. Our wish is to provide you with the best product and service at the most reasonable price."

1. Under what circumstances will you suspend a customer's domain name based on the content of his or her Web site, in the absence of a court order?

Gandi, as you know, specializes in domain name registration, and as such we pay close attention to the validity of the registration information of the domain (Whois data). We therefore are allowed to suspend domain names if the Whois data is false.

In some instances, Gandi has suspended domain names where we have found that the Web site that uses the domain is clearly used for blatant illicit activity, and which has been recognized as doing so by other respected and identified sources. A clear example of this is when a domain is used to point to a well-known spam scheme such as "My Canadian Pharmacy."

To pick up on the point about the "court order," we have found that such a process may be very slow in certain cases and circumstances, given the nature of the Internet, which is why action is sometimes taken in the absence of a court order. But this is always done after having contacted the owner of the domain name in question, and in respect of laws and our terms and conditions.

2. How many times a month, on average, do you suspend a customer's domain name based on the content of his or her Web site?

Gandi almost never takes action against a domain name based exclusively on the content of the Web site, largely because we do not provide Web hosting.

Behind each Web site is a company or an individual, and we need to understand who that is and what they are doing before we act. For example we would not suspend a domain name of a hosting company just because of one Web page of a Web site of one of their customers; in such a case it is more effective to collaborate with the host to pull the offending content.

When we make the decision to suspend a domain name, it is often due to a combination of several factors, rather than just the content itself (for example: multiple spam complaints, fake Whois data, and illicit Web site content).

For that kind of abuses, and after warnings, we have an average of 200 domain names suspended--not deleted--a month. Illicit Web site content represents a very small percentage of complaints we receive.

3. What are the most common reasons for suspension?

Other than the crime itself, perhaps the most stupid thing a criminal could do is to leave his or her real address and telephone number at the scene of a crime!

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22 comments

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free speech?
Is now defined as being able to post a list of usernames and passwords for the world to see? Little significance if it's myspace - if it were Bank of America usernames and passwords, the guy would have ended up in jail faster than you could blink.
Posted by Sunflare98 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free speech
Free speech is so important that it is always the *first* refuge of lame-Os everywhere in hopes they can get support. They do something wrong and right away it's "free speech! free speech!" It's too bad as it erodes public support of TRUE free speech issues (of which there are many).
Posted by WDS2 (183 comments )
Link Flag
Unfortunate title, but great article
Kudos to CNET for this survey. If you read the entire article you'll realize it doesn't really have anything to do with free speech. Also, if you understand the details of the situation, the site owner didn't do anything wrong. The site archives mailing lists, and one of the lists included this username/password list. The list is readily available on the internet. Instead of trying to shut down this site, MySpace should have spent its time changing the passwords of its users.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://domainnamewire.com/2007/02/02/cnet-surveys-registrars-about-godaddy-suspension/" target="_newWindow">http://domainnamewire.com/2007/02/02/cnet-surveys-registrars-about-godaddy-suspension/</a>
Posted by andrew999999999 (42 comments )
Link Flag
Afraid to go on record?
I find it interesting that some of these companies would not go
on record defining their policies. While I understand that each
situation needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis, there
should be some policies and procedures in place that are clearly
outlined to the customer so that we understand the protocol if
such a situation arises. Did GoDaddy verify that indeed the
person making the claim was an employee of MySpace and had
the authorization to make a complaint? While I understand the
need to protect the public in cases of breaches of security, we
must temper that without resorting to kneejerk reactions and
immediate suspension. I sometimes feel that these companies
hide behind their Terms of Use and other legalese without
having any obligations to their customers.
Posted by wb113324 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Go Daddy
It's interesting that Go Daddy responded to the survey instead of apologizing. It's time for Bob Parsons to think very seriously about how his company is perceived internationally. It's time for his "abuse" staff and legal counsel to get some training.
Posted by bluehole.foetry (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Never liked GoDaddy
I've always thought the management and practices of GoDaddy were arrogant and have felt that they've historically been primarily interested in promoting their own interests over the interests of their customers. They got where they are today for primarily one reason: undercutting the competition's prices. Historically their level of service has been commensurate with their prices, which is to say pretty poor. It was only after they became a very large registrar that they introduced things like 24x7 telephone support, something competitors had offered for years prior.

Also, lots of borderline questionable activities are supported by GoDaddy's controversial "private registration" service, where they block the public from seeing the details about a domain registrar (via WHOIS) that are supposed to be (by ICANN policy) public record. I question whether they are doing the 'net as a whole any favors by providing that service. However no doubt they are generating handsome revenue from some of the shady operations that hide behind that scheme.

Back when Network Solutions was the 800 lb gorilla that everyone hated (for good reason - another example of a large arrogant dominant registrar offering poor service) and when the independent registrar industry was just getting started, I investigated many different registrars. It was a real eye-opener to read through the terms of service of some of the "most recognized" companies in the business (ie dotster, register.com, etc) which in many cases tried to not only marginalize the amount of control the registrant had over the domain, but also had clauses that imposed confiscatory fees and waiting periods over the slightest irregularity, and many of them included text that basically gave the registrar the right to abuse your private details to either spam you directly or sell these details to others to spam you.

I ended up settling on a company called Domain Discover for all of my own and my client's domains, because while they didn't offer the cheapest prices (TANSTAAFL), they offered astute, courteous, prompt 24x7 service, and their terms of service clearly tilted the power over the domain towards the domain-registrant, rather than the registrar. There was little if any "hidden fees" to re-register a domain that lapsed (as others have noted in other followups to an earlier article on the GoDaddy/Seclists/MySpace controversy), and I have never had a single problem with them. Their WHOIS servers are fast and reliable, their website is efficient and utilitarian rather than something the marketing department ran amuck with, etc.

So DomainDiscover is definitely a keeper, and I am sure there are some other good registrars out there that aren't as much of a "household name" as the biggest companies. (Gandi is probably one of them, but because they're based in France and didn't have telephone support when I investigated them, they weren't a great option for me)

Phil Koenig
Posted by pjk0 (1198 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks Phil...
for the good post. I am going to transfer my domains to domaindiscover.com.
Another reason I disliked GoDaddy is that when I recently renewed a domain using the PayPal option, GoDaddy stipulated a $500 monthly maximum in their PayPal agreement which to me is way out of line for an $8.95 transaction.

--Michael
Posted by tvhawaii (5 comments )
Link Flag
DirectNIC is Great
Have used them for 10 years: they are fantastic.

Reasonably priced. Good service.

Stayed running through Katrina!
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Godaddy is starting to annoy me.
Godaddy moved all my domains to Windows from Linux.

I am not here to give Microsoft a boost in their dismal stats for IIS over Apache and Linux.

I was happy having them parked on a Linux server. But Godaddy and Microsft did a deal and moved them to Windows without asking the customer.

Now that I think of it, I will move my domains from Godaddy. They are really starting to annoy me now.

:(
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tucows refused to participate
No surprise there -- Tucows has become notoriously unresponsive since the onset of their "expansion" phase a year or two ago.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://tucowed.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://tucowed.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by tucowed (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cracks me up
You guys crack me up and have it totally wrong. Directnic routinely suspends domains without just cause which is funny that you list them here. I suggest you guys stick to things you know about and leave the domain reporting to those of us who know what we are talking about.

Ross
- <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.thehostguru.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.thehostguru.com</a>
Posted by rosshosman-2006316116401890488 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gandi.net is asking for personal documents not listed in their agreement!
It says here that "Gandi.net protects your domain name", but who will protect you from Gandi???
I transfered a domain name that I purchased in January for $xx,xxx to Gandi.net from Network Solutions, Gandi was reccomended to me
by a friend in France from LVMH that has worked with Lycos before and knows that the former CEO of
Lycos Europe is the owner of Gandi.net and that you can trust a company like that, but can you?
Network Solutions claimed that we transfered the domain without authorization from the owner, but we were
the owner before it was transfered and we bought the domain from the seller fair and square.
My domain is frozen for over a month now and ive sent documents to Gandi.net that even
my Tax attorney in the US told me not to send, but I still sent them,
and in a few weeks I will send them the notorized documents, but it seems that Gandi trusts nobody.
I sent them copies of the purchase contract, invoices, scanned passport copy, office addresses, phone numbers,faxes,
company registration documents, shareholder meeting documents supporting me as President of my company e.t.c...
I spoke with their support staff, a Mr. Ryan Anderson, who was pretty friendly and told me that I will have control
over the domain by the 28th of Feb., but their lawyer a Mrs. Francoise told me that
I that I wont, only if I prove that the company is real, but I already sent
documents to them providing proof of myself, 10 numbers for contacting me,
my companies Registration documents, and my office details. They never even called my office, to confirm the companies
residence there, as my secretary told me. They only sent a Fedex to my P.O. Box that forwarded
the package to my office, after my staff opened it, it was the same letter that was faxed to
all my 5 fax machines. No UDRP or WIPO proceedure was filed by the former owner as he knows that he will lose
since we have all contracts and payment documents, but it seems that I have picked a Registrar
that can do anything they want with my domain name and has the right to ask me for "ANY" documents
just so I can control it again. Whats next, my medical records??? HIV/ and AIDS blood tests?
What? My lawyer at Gowlings is searching for a good I.T. lawyer in France to handle the situation
if it gets out of hand, but I dont understand how can people publish articles like
"Gandi protects your domain name" when the most important part the registrar should also
do is protect you, the client, plus a little trust on their part wont be bad either.
Has anything like this happend to you Gandi clients here??? Any reccomendations???
Thank You
Neal Baltz
baltz@usa.com
Posted by nealbaltz (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Reply to Mr. Baltz' comment
Hello CNET readers,

Mr. Baltz is referring to a litigious domain
name that was transferred to Gandi following a
fradulant ownership change at the previous
registrar.

In the short time that the domain was registered
with Gandi following a transfer, we were unable
to verify the authenticity of the documents
provided as evidence of the domain name's
registrant. The documents provided that Mr.
Baltz mentione are also currently under
investigation by the FBI as they are deemed to
be fradulant and/or part of a fradulant
transaction.

As Gandi takes extreme measures to protect the
rights of domain name owners, and as the
documents in the particular case to which Mr.
Baltz is referring were of inauthentic, we
requested only certified copies, which were not
provided.

Additionally, the .com registry, Verisign, the
former registrar, and Gandi were all in
agreement that the validity of the domain's
owner was questionable and thus the transfer of
the domain, irregular. Consequently, the domain
was returned by the Registry to the former
registrar, following a special inter-registrar
procedure set up for such purposes, where the
owner was returned to the legitimate owner by
the original registrar.

This is just another example of the importance
that registrars must take in ensuring that the
owner of a domain is indeed the owner before
undertaking any operation concerning the
modification of a domain name's owner.

This is the final communication that we will
make on this particular topic, which has been
resolved at the registry level.

---
Gandi SAS
www.gandi.net
Posted by Gandi SAS (1 comment )
Link Flag
Nomer.com
Nomer.com, first ICANN accredited Registrar in Latin America, only suspend a domain name if is a clear case of physhing.

Best Regards,

Ricardo Vaz Monteiro
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Nomer.com.br" target="_newWindow">http://www.Nomer.com.br</a>
Posted by agenciawww (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I owned a domain name webricate.com and my sole purpose was to develop website templates for cleints. My Clients provide me with all contents and graphics and we arrange layout of a template to give them a mockup. Once done this goes live on their website. On Friday 10 October Godaddy suspended my account at closing hours and I was not able to see my website or any of template mockups on weekend. My company has lost £1200 since then. The only email I have received is that some one claimed that contents on my website are copywrited and it was only on one template out of 200 templates. Suspending a domain and hosting rather than only that template I was not even told about this unless enquired. The worst thing is that their copyrights claim department can only repsond by email while all other support departments are available 24/7 on phone. I have sent them an email and also apologized on behalf of my client who simply wanted to have a website similar to the one that claimed copyrights however the content and material was given to us for a mockup. Its similar to asking for a youtube functionality but with different video categories. The worst thing is I had 77 subdomains running in various folders and all of them went suspended at the same time. The claiming body did tell GoDaddy that copyright has been broken in only one folder however if they had contacted us we would have removed the material at once. After all it is unlikely that we can go on each website on internet to check if a client is giving us their own contents. Our clients do tell us to have mockups similar to others and these mockups are temporary and GoDaddy should have spoken or at least given some respect to their customer than listening to someone claiming. A genuine claim should be investigate rather than just acted upon.
Posted by farrukhsubhani (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My experience with GANDI is just great. I am from India. I have checked many registrar but GANDI and Dotster are the best and most trusted in lot..believe me.
Posted by panapanapana (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
What about Open SRS? How can we investigate this?
Posted by flossed (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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