Why GoDaddy Hasn't Earned My Forgiveness

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GoDaddy has publicly flip-flopped to opposing the SOPA legislation in the wake of a boycott effort that saw thousands of domains transferred away from the registrar in retaliation for its support. Now that GoDaddy switched sides, it seems reasonable to put things in the past and return to business as usual, but there is still something bugging me about the GoDaddy situation.

Todd Wasserman on Mashable said it’s time to give GoDaddy a break. “Now that Go Daddy has unequivocally opposed SOPA, haters are still up in arms because the company seems to have only done it because its business was at risk. Wasn’t this the point?”

It's nice that GoDaddy flip-flopped, but the fact is that it originally supported SOPA -- and that is unforgivable.
Wasserman is right. The whole point of the boycott effort was to exert pressure on GoDaddy by impacting its bottom line and forcing it to shift its position on the SOPA legislation. Mission accomplished.

It doesn’t seem fair to get angry at GoDaddy for supporting SOPA, and then continue the backlash even after it has switched to opposing it. But, if you stop and consider that GoDaddy was supporting the legislation in the first place, there is reason to be upset still.

What is disturbing is that GoDaddy supported it in the first place -- and that had there not been a consumer backlash that materially impacted its bottom line, the domain registrar would be happy to infringe on the civil liberties of its customers. There are two serious concerns I have with the fact that GoDaddy backed SOPA.

First, why? I understand why the RIAA, MPAA, Nintendo, EA, and others in the entertainment content industry would love to wield draconian power to shut down sites at will without any actual cause or justification, but what does GoDaddy have to gain? As evidenced by a blog post from David Rusenko, one of the co-founders of Weebly.com, GoDaddy is already shutting down domains on a whim even without the SOPA legislation.

Second, integrity is doing the right thing even when you think nobody is watching. Reversing course and opposing SOPA in response to a boycott is not the same thing as having never supported it.

It reminds me of when I go shopping for a car and a salesman tells me, “This is absolutely the best deal I can give you…but if you get a better deal somewhere else, let me know and I’ll beat it.”

Um, no. If I find a dealership willing to make me a better deal, I am going to do business with that dealership. Why would I come back and do business with you, if you’re only willing to give me the best possible deal under duress?

What GoDaddy did was support a bill that violates civil liberties and threatens the future of he Internet as we know it -- the Internet that GoDaddy relies on for revenue. Supporting the bill demonstrates a major lack of understanding of how the Internet works, and a serious disregard for customers.

I’m sorry if I am not impressed that GoDaddy dropped its support for SOPA under duress. I’d rather do business with a domain registrar that didn’t have the audacity (stupidity) to support SOPA in the first place.

As a final side note, though, I don’t agree with singling out GoDaddy. Every company that had a part in creating or backing this ridiculous legislation, and the politicians that are pandering to lobbyists by pushing it forward, should all be held accountable.

And, any organization or individual that flip-flops should be praised, but with a healthy dose of skepticism because they aren’t acting out of integrity, but out of self-defense. There is no guarantee they won’t also support the next Internet-crushing legislation that comes along if they think they can do it under the radar without facing the backlash.

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