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Go Daddy shuns China, too

godaddy_nascar.gi.top.jpgGo Daddy is an Internet domain registration company known for its Super Bowl commercials featuring race car driver Danica Patrick.By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It turns out that Google isn't the only U.S. tech company that's fed up with China.

Go Daddy, the Internet domain registration site, announced Wednesday it is no longer offering new ".cn" Chinese Web domains, citing tough new government rules requiring extensive personal information from applicants.

The move makes Go Daddy the first U.S. Internet company to shut down some of its business in China after Google shipped off its Chinese search site to Hong Kong on Monday. Like Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Go Daddy said access to its site has been spotty in China since its announcement.

At a hearing held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Go Daddy's general counsel, Christine Jones, told lawmakers that China recently implemented new laws requiring Go Daddy to collect color headshot photos, business ID numbers and signed registration forms from new registrants of ".cn" domain names. Go Daddy, in turn, was required to surrender that information to government authorities.

Jones said China's new rules also applied retroactively, so the company would have to go back to Chinese customers that had already registered, asking them to provide photos, business ID numbers and registration forms.

China's Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the government-controlled Internet regulator, informed Go Daddy that if existing customers did not comply, their domain names would no longer work.

"We were immediately concerned about the motives behind the increased level of registrant verification being required by CNNIC," said Jones in her testimony. "The intent of the new procedures appeared, to us, to be based on a desire by the Chinese authorities to exercise increased control over the subject matter of domain name registrations by Chinese nationals."

Go Daddy found that its users weren't willing to play along: Only about 20% of Go Daddy's 27,000 affected customers submitted the required documentation and gave Go Daddy the OK to submit it to the Chinese authorities, Jones said. As a result, the company anticipated that thousands of Web sites registered by Go Daddy could be disabled by the Chinese government.

The company said it would continue to host and provide services to its existing customers with ".cn" addresses. Jones told lawmakers that the company would consider providing new ".cn." addresses if the Chinese government rescinds its new law.

Go Daddy was widely applauded by lawmakers for its actions in China, as was Google. The same can't be said for Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500): at the hearing, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., accused the company of "enabling tyranny" for continuing to censor search results in China.

Known for its sex-themed television commercials, Go Daddy is the largest Internet domain registration site in the world, managing more than 40 million domain names. Go Daddy also hosts about 7 million Web sites. Go Daddy began its business in China in 2005. To top of page

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