GoDaddy: No Coronavirus Domain Names on Its Aftermarket

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Yesterday afternoon, James Bladel, GoDaddy VP of Public Policy, published an article discussing what GoDaddy is doing to combat coronavirus-related fraud and abuse. The article comes in the wake of a letter that was sent to GoDaddy by the office of New York State’s Attorney General Letitia James concerning domain names being used for fraudulent schemes and scams. GoDaddy already publicly replied to the NYAG via Twitter.

Here’s what GoDaddy has been reportedly doing to combat fraud related to domain names registered or hosted at GoDaddy:

“GoDaddy has teams dedicated to investigating every abuse complaint the company receives. We do not tolerate abuse on our platform and our Universal Terms of Service (UTOS) gives us broad discretion to act on complaints, and this includes COVID-19 abuse. To date, our teams have already investigated and removed COVID-19 fraud sites in response to reports, and our vigilance will continue long after the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.”

In this article, GoDaddy did not mention anything about registering or selling coronavirus related domain names. Earlier today, I heard some rumblings about the exclusion of coronavirus-related domain names, so I reached out to a representative from GoDaddy to understand if there have been any policies put in place regarding the registration or sale of coronavirus domain names.

There have been no restrictions added to the registration of coronavirus / COVID-19 domain names. Customers can register domain names as they wish, without any prohibitions. I think it would be very difficult for GoDaddy to put restrictions in place without hindering registrants who wish to use these domain names. For instance, Boston Children’s Hospital recently launched a website on CovidNearYou.org as a resource for tracking the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. This domain name was registered at GoDaddy on March 15.

With respect to the aftermarket at GoDaddy, including GoDaddy Auctions and Afternic, GoDaddy is not allowing listings with coronavirus related keywords in them. From what I understand, this only includes domain names with “coronavirus” or “COVID” in them. I would imagine GoDaddy might choose to remove other domain names that are related to the pandemic at its discretion.

It makes sense that GoDaddy is allowing registrations but is not permitting the resale of domain names. It also makes sense that GoDaddy is proactively working to shut down scams and schemes using the company’s services and products.

GoDaddy owns Coronavirus.com, which is probably the most valuable pandemic-specific domain name. Instead of selling or monetizing this domain name, the company made the decision to forward the traffic to the World Health Organization website.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great. So GoDaddy wants a monopoly on selling coronavirus names on its network. “You can register them”….meaning they sell them but don’t allow anyone else. That’s dumb.

  2. Godaddy are taking the money here. The cash cow is Coronavirus registration fees. There is going to be no money if trying to resell aftermarket Coronavirus names, they would know that.

    Godaddy is taking an ethically dubious position in my view, either block properly or not at all.

  3. At least you can still buy their domains PandemicOutbreak.com ($4,999) and BirdFluPandemic.net ($1,999) at NameFind.com (and GDA/Afternic), as well as BirdFluFears.com, CancerCam.com (for watching people die of cancer?), CancerHead.com (I won’t speculate), SuicidePacts.com, SuicideBombers.com, TeenSuicide.org, and Tragedy.org.

    Do you think they should donate those domains and ban similar ones from being sold at GoDaddy and Afternic?

    • It is not my business to tell people what they should do with their domain names.

      I think selling pandemic related domain names makes domain investors (and the industry of domain investing) look scummy to the majority of the general public.

      • I think I understand what you’re saying, Elliot, but I also think it’s somewhat comparable to a business, in 1930s Germany, saying “Most people hate Jews so let’s disassociate ourselves from them as much as possible, lest we be criticized and boycotted.”

        I’m not saying that’s an immoral point of view but I think it’s unwise, at least in the long term, because when you cave in to the majority view that one type of harmless activity is immoral, you get on the “slippery slope,” as some people have been saying, of other types of harmless activity being branded immoral as well, i.e. cancer and depression domains, and then the whole question as to whether it’s immoral to buy a domain name for $10 and put it up for sale for $10,000. In Hong Kong, and I’m not sure which other jurisdictions, ticket reselling (hatefully termed “scalping”) is illegal if you attempt to profit by more than a very small amount.

        And if the domain industry criticizes and ostracizes people who buy covid-related domains to hopefully profit (without sending dishonest emails or using the domains to sell products which are dishonestly advertised), it opens itself to the charge of hypocrisy – because so many of us, and even GoDaddy, owns domains like the ones I listed – which fact opportunistic journalists and publications, looking to satisfy the general public’s addiction to criticism, may jump on. I think the domain community is best off united in standing up for the legal right we all should have, in my opinion, to buy and sell domains freely.

        Buying a domain like CoronavirusNews.com and putting a for-sale lander on it isn’t hurting anyone and at least makes it more likely that the domain will be used by a person or group which will put somewhat substantial resources into development. There is no valid basis for criticism, imo, only the self-righteous superstition, imo, that “you shouldn’t profit from a tragedy,” when in fact we all do in various ways.

        Even if you don’t consider it a tragedy when farmed or hunted animals suffer greatly in the process of our being supplied our food, how many of us derive our income from companies which, for example, sell cigarettes, or lobby politicians into letting them legally pollute the environment? How many people work in the “military industrial complex,” by which a large percentage of our prosperity is apportioned to building weapons which, if they are ever used, may mean the end of life on Earth, while things like pandemic preparedness are neglected?

        As I may have said here earlier, even driving a car contributes to the incidence of children and others being killed when they run out from between parked vehicles and a driver can’t avoid hitting them. We could get a campaign going which thus claims that driving for any non-essential purpose is immoral and should be banned – except I don’t think the public wants to be quite that moral.

        • Rob Monster stated that he bought CoronaPrayer.com from GoDaddy.

          https://www.namepros.com/threads/why-and-how-epik-allows-coronavirus-domains-to-be-listed.1182752/page-3#post-7696419

          His comment was from March 28th. Which is the last updated day of the current WHOIS.

          It was registered at GoDaddy on March 9th.

          Rob has since developed the domain to fit the keywords.

          Irregardless of my religious beliefs, I applaud Rob for his efforts here.

          It goes to show, we are all in this together. All GoDaddy, Dan, and even Epik have their individual stances of these type of domains, and I doubt any decisions will stop any of the above entities from working together to continue operating as productive participants of the domain industry, each serving their respective customer base to the best of their ability, within applicable laws and policy.

          As you know, these decisions don’t stop you from listing (at GoDaddy) other health related domains that could lead to a pandemic. These domains are not likely receiving the same type of traffic that a related domain would be seeing in such a pandemic as me might be seeing today.

          Per the above thread started by Rob Monster, Epik allows coronavirus domains to be listed. There are still outlets for you to sell your coronavirus/covid19.org’s. Why all the fuss Jon?

          Lastly, and this is not an endorsement of Rob Monster or Epik, I’m simply speaking on Epik’s policy seemingly coinciding with your interests, and Epiks proven ability to quickly innovate and implement products / content, perhaps there could be value in collaborating with team Epik to fulfill a higher need/purpose? Perhaps even one where you could profit handsomely from? Could it be sold/pitched as a battle between domain registrars, as an opportunity to be heard/compared at the global level. EG. GoDaddy acquired Coronavirus.com and forwarded to the WHO, whereas (potentially) Epik acquires Coronavirus.org and they _______________________(to be determined if acquired).

          [PS] Have you searched Twitter to see what the general public is saying about Coronavirus.com when compared to Coronavirus.org?

          https://archive.li/OlXS4

  4. I am late to this thread but I did comment on Twitter about this on March 26

    https://twitter.com/robmonster/status/1243196903581499397

    The NamePros thread referenced above @My name has had a hearty discussion:

    https://www.namepros.com/threads/why-and-how-epik-allows-coronavirus-domains-to-be-listed.1182752/

    As for CoronaPrayer.com, that was a weekend impulse project. It took about an hour to knock out.

    Good luck to all and may you all stay healthy!

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