Netizens angered by the initial support of Web hosting giant Go Daddy for a controversial online piracy bill voted with their "domain" — moving tens of thousands of website names to other Internet domain registrars in a coordinated day of online protest.
And apparently it worked. Go Daddy said it felt the shift — though it did not provide specific numbers — and announced that it now opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act.
"We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to Go Daddy's prior support for SOPA, which was reversed," newly appointed Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman said in a statement late Thursday. "Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time."
Names of Go Daddy's competing registrars proliferated online on Thursday, which was dubbed "Move Your Domain" day (#moveyourdomain). Go Daddy clients on Twitter reported if they'd made a move — or if they'd been contacted by the firm to stay with them.
"Just Left @GoDaddy due to their promoting #SOPA and their new CEO's half-hearted reversal. We don't live in China or Iran yet ... #ByeDaddy,” quipped @DaveScott9.
"Bye @Godaddy — just transferred 58 domains away because of your SOPA and PIPA support. #sopa #sopasucks Stay in servers, not politics," tweeted 1HChandler.
In a flurry of statements released over the last few days, Go Daddy said it no longer supported the House version of the legislation, known as SOPA, nor had it ever backed the Senate version (Protect IP Act, or PIPA), and noted that it has been removed from the U.S. Congressional list of SOPA supporters. SOPA would make the streaming of unauthorized content a felony and websites that violate it could be blocked by Internet service providers and payment processors as well as de-indexed by search engines.
"Go Daddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities," Adelman said in the statement.
The boycott and transfer day were organized by users of social news site Reddit, which also set up a boycott site.
A number of Go Daddy competitors seized the opportunity to lure those making transfers. One of those was Namecheap, which decided to donate $2 for each transfer made on Tuesday to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that fights for digital rights. Those making transfers could use coupons — by typing "SOPAsucks" in at check-out — to pay $6.99 rather than the normal fee of a little more than $10.
Though Namecheap doesn't know where the transfers were coming from, they ended the day with some 27,200 transfers — giving them more than 77,000 inbound transfers since they announced their anti-SOPA stance on Dec. 22, a company spokeswoman Tamar Weinberg said in an email.
"We've seen more than 20 times our normal transfer activity and are delighted that we were able to take a stand against SOPA and help EFF in their fight," she said.
EFF had posted a list of alternate domain registrars on their site that included Namecheap and Suspicious Networks NS1.net, which said it had received one transfer from a Go Daddy client, though their website traffic was perhaps twice that of an average day.
"Suspicious Networks is not that large or frankly well known. We rarely publicize or advertise services," wrote Rob Friedman, the owner/operator in an email to msnbc.com. "I really wanted to personally be able to open my services up to people looking for better domain registration options and make a donation to the EFF in the process."
Domain.com reported a majority of their transfers in the last week and on Thursday came from Go Daddy users. They also experienced a nearly 450 percent increase in the number of transfers — on an average day — on Thursday.
Gandi.net also noted a peak in domain transfers, all from Go Daddy. They don't have exact numbers, but expect it could reach between 5,000 and 10,000, the firm's Stephan Ramoin wrote in an email.
A report from The Domains said that some 37,000 domain names were transferred out of Go Daddy over two days last week, but that the company had received nearly the same in transfers to it as well. On her Facebook page, civil rights activist Naomi Wolf called the development "exciting."
"All of the sudden there really is a lot of mainstream attention … we're seeing a lot of people waking up to these issues and taking a firm stance," said Parker Higgins, an EFF activist. "It is an important issue and it's one that really affects the future of the Internet."
The House Judiciary Committee has said it would debate the bill early next year.
More on SOPA:
- Some call for Dec. 29 as Dump Go Daddy day
- Vinton Cerf, other Internet gurus protest piracy bill
- Can a Wikipedia blackout save the Internet?
- Congressman blasts Google's stance on piracy bill
- Software alliance yanks support for piracy bill
- Red Tape: Congress takes up controversial anti-piracy SOPA legislation