the dancing hippie, we have to wonder if today's move by GoDaddy.com, the world's largest domain name provider, means there's more trouble in store for China and western Internet companies. According to an article in today's Washington Post, the company will follow Google's lead and cease registering websites in China.Returning to a lesson we recently learned from
As we learned when studying the case of the dancing hippie, it's the first follower that "transforms a lone nut into a leader."
Google co-founder Sergey Brin called for the U.S. to stand up against Internet censorship in China this morning, criticizing Microsoft for its stance on the issue. While Brin's own stance has been called into question, it seems that the lone dancer has found a partner.
The Post quotes Rep. Christopher Smith, the man behind "a bill that would make it a crime for U.S. companies to share personal user information with 'Internet-restricting' countries", as saying that "Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people."
GoDaddy's move, however, is not the purely altruistic act of solidarity it might first appear to be. A new Chinese policy enacted last December upped the ante, requiring registrants of .cn domain names to submit photos and business identification, which would then be forwarded to the government. The law would require GoDaddy to retroactively gather information from domain registrants.
While this certainly has extremely ominous implications in terms of human rights, we have to wonder how much the law implies in financial terms. GoDaddy is currently responsible for more than 40 million domain names, a number that is three times the nearest competitor. We don't know what percent of that is in China, but it could be quite the endeavor to go back and acquire extra registrant information before sending it to the government.
On the other hand, we can hope that this is all being done for the good of humanity. And even if not, if it has that result in the end, does it matter what the reasons for the actions were? All skepticism aside, Google has found a friend, and the hardest part may be behind it.
As Derek Sivers, the man behind the dancing hippie video, told us last time, "When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in."
GoDaddy, it seems, has stood up, joined in and now we're wondering what big player might be next.