So the fallout begins. Two days after Google’s announcement that it would no longer censor search results in China, Go Daddy, the largest Internet domain registration company, announced Wednesday that it would stop offering new “.cn” domain registrations in China.
Go Daddy announced their decision at a hearing in Washington, D.C. of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and claimed it was prompted by a “recent increase in China’s surveillance and monitoring of the Internet activities of its citizens.” As part of a campaign against Internet pornography, new Chinese regulations require domain registration companies like Go Daddy to turn over to the government full photo identification, a business license and a signed physical contract of anyone wishing to buy a website name in China. China has already banned individuals from buying domain names through new regulations in late 2009, permitting only companies or organizations.
Go Daddy is the first American company to publicly follow Google out of the Chinese market over Internet privacy disagreements with the Chinese government. However, Christine Jones, Go Daddy’s executive vice president, said that the company’s decision had nothing to do with Google’s earlier decision but everything to do with “preventing extensive personal information on domain name registrants from being supplied to the Chinese government.” Go Daddy will continue to service existing .cn customers but just won’t be taking on any new ones.
In another surprising twist, Dell, one of the world’s largest PC companies, hinted that it might be considering switching its China operations to India. In a meeting between Dell’s CEO Michael Dell and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dell suggested that it was looking at options in India. “[Dell] would like to shift to safer environment with a climate conducive to enterprise with security of legal system,” Singh told the Hindustan Times. A spokesman for Dell denied this claim, however.
Meanwhile, here on the mainland, fallout from Google’s announcement has begun with China Unicom’s decision boycott to boycott Google’s search engine. China’s second-largest mobile operator said that it would remove the Google search function from its new Android-based mobile phones. Hong-Kong-based Internet company TOM Online, owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing, also announced that it dropped Google from its portal.
Time to place your bets: who’s next to go?