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.