Go Daddy accused of blocking domain transfers

December 27, 2011

Users of domain registrar Namecheap who've been trying to transfer domains in from GoDaddy in the wake of its SOPA revolt in the past couple days have been running into a bit of a speed bump: Namecheap alleges in customer service emails that GoDaddy is blocking its WHOIS requests, which means it needs to "manually insert WHOIS details into the form." In a follow-up blog post today, Namecheap also says that GoDaddy "appears to be returning incomplete WHOIS information" in violation of ICANN rules, taking the opportunity to sling a little mud in GoDaddy's direction:

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.

It turns out that GoDaddy's move isn't new, though — it's been happening for a long time, long before SOPA entered the vernacular. Without knowing of the registrar in question (Namecheap), GoDaddy had this to say:

...it sounds like what you are describing is a standard practice used by GoDaddy, and many other registrars, to rate limit WHOIS queries to combat WHOIS abuse... It doesn't sound right that we would be non-responsive to a request to increase port 43 access from a registrar who was initiating transfer requests and reached the daily limit of WHOIS queries, even if it came in over the Christmas weekend.

From the outside, we don't know how aggressively Namecheap has been pinging GoDaddy's services — but it sounds like it's at least plausible that it was automatically shut down or throttled per a preexisting policy, which would suggest that it could be a misunderstanding on Namecheap's part.

Coincidentally, Namecheap is openly opposed to SOPA — the very legislation that got GoDaddy into hot water with many of its customers over the past week.

Update: We were just provided a statement from GoDaddy's senior director of product development, Rich Merdinger, which echoes what the company has already said — the claim is that this isn't a direct response to an elevated rate of domain transfers, and circumstantial evidence suggests that GoDaddy is correct on that point.

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.

Because some registrars (and other data gathering, analyzing and reporting entities) have legitimate need for heavy port 43 access, we routinely grant requests for expanded access per an SOP we've had in place for many years. Should we make contact with Namecheap, and learn they need similar access, we would treat that request similarly.

As a side note, we have seen some nefarious activity this weekend which came from non-registrar sources. But, that is not unusual for a holiday weekend, nor would it cause legitimate requests to be rejected. 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.

This article originally appeared on theverge.com as GoDaddy accused of dragging feet on domain transfers, says there’s nothing unusual going on .

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