TPM’s IdeaLab has a very thorough analysis covering the controversy buffeting web hoster GoDaddy in the past week. Until today they’d been supporting the controversial SOPA bill that failed as Congress ended its recent session. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) has been criticized by netizens who fear it will just allow large content owners to dominate the streams of digital distribution in the emerging entertainment and intellectual property environment. GoDaddy has been threatened with mass defections by many subscribers willing to move their hosting to other companies. Carl Franzen’s story flags a change in the company’s position:
“’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,’” said Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman. ‘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. 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.’”
But Franzen’s reporting suggests the company was wholeheartedly behind SOPA until pressure began to build over the past 7 days.
Although I haven’t read the entire proposed law, I tend to agree with the many activists charging that SOPA’s passage would be a serious loss in the struggling effort to salvage ‘net neutrality,’ and a capitulation to anti-democratic interests. And this is personal for me: my wife and I happen to each have a site hosted by GoDaddy: this one, www.kylegallup.com,and this very blog. We’re discussing changing hosts, but now I’m curious to see how this all may play out. Would it make any sense to stay with GoDaddy but let CEO Adelman know in writing that it’s only because they’ve repudiated SOPA, and that we’ll stay with them only if they hold fast to that stance? Though SOPA seems to have died in the last congress, the corporate lobbying that brought it up will surely bring some version of it back. Will GoDaddy recant their renunciation of support for a SOPA-like law? Is its latest statement only made in hopes of forestalling mass defections? What will their position be when the next bill comes up?
Interestingly, the CEO of GoDaddy, Warrren Adelman, only stepped into his job a few days before this controversy began. I don’t want to give him a break he may not deserve, but given the circumstances it’s possible he’s been trying to get the PR response to this situation aligned with his own best judgement, instead of the previous regime’s.
I’m going to keep my eye on Carl Franzen’s reporting on this in the new year. Meantime, if any friends have a favorite host, please let me know. We may need it.